Village council to vote on stricter bar, restaurant guidelines

Inside bar patrons must be seated; restaurant group sizes reduced

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By Maria Maxham

The village council will vote on whether or not stricter guidelines should be put in place locally for restaurants and, especially, bars at the regularly scheduled village council meeting on Aug. 10. But the ordinance up for vote is being rewritten with softer restrictions after Aug. 7 discussions between Mayor Rory Hoskins and two local bar owners.

On Aug. 6, the agenda for the meeting included an ordinance "adopting the Cook County Department of Public Health mitigation guidance for COVID-19" in Forest Park.

This ordinance put several restrictions in place for Forest Park businesses, including indoor consumption of alcohol no longer being allowed at any bar or tavern operating without a food license. That would impact at least seven bars in town, which would only be permitted to allow customers on licensed patios or beer gardens.

Two Forest Park bar owners, Marty Sorice and Joe Sullivan, reached out to Hoskins on Friday, Aug. 7 to discuss the ordinance.

According to Hoskins, the ordinance is being amended so bars can still provide indoor service, but for seated customers only, at tables spaced with social distancing in mind. This measure would prevent large crowds from congregating. A rewritten ordinance will be posted online by the end of the day Friday, Aug. 7.

On Aug. 3, the Cook County Department of Public Health issued recommendations for suburban businesses as the positivity rate for COVID-19 increased, rising from 5.2 percent on July 22 to 5.8 percent on July 31 in suburban Cook County.

The county's guidance is in the form of recommendations; the county is not enforcing the rules. But individual towns can put official rules in place and enforce them, if deemed necessary by local officials. One of the more restrictive of the county's recommendations is that bars and establishments that do not serve food should not serve customers indoors.

Also included in Forest Park's ordinance, to be voted on Monday night, is a reduction in party-size at restaurants from 10 people, allowable under phase 4 of Illinois' Restore Illinois plan, to six people per table.

In related news, on Aug. 7 , Gov. J. B. Pritzker announced that health authorities in Illinois will be able to fine establishments that fail to follow mask and capacity guidelines as part of a new emergency rule, which "would provide multiple opportunities for compliance" prior to a fine being levied. These opportunities for compliance include warnings.

However, if businesses fail to comply, a Class A Misdemeanor charge and fine of up to $2,500 could be issued.

According to Pritzker during his announcement, the Illinois Department of Public Health and local authorities will have power to "seek cooperation with businesses in COVID-19 related investigations."

"These rules are a commonsense way to enforce mask requirements without jumping immediately to the extremely tough consequences that exist on the books today," Pritzker said. "They'll give local authorities a step-by-step guide on how to enforce masks and distancing, and an opportunity to help businesses act in good faith."

Capital News Service contributed to this article

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Reader Comments

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Julieta Cristina Aguilera Rodríguez  

Posted: August 12th, 2020 2:57 PM

It is not unusual to see parking complaints by people with a hidden agenda. We drive by Madison about once a week and parking spots are almost full but one can find parking, unlike with the previous system. Do not think you can skip the payment for ten minutes and please do not post misinformation demanding a waiver for a cheap fee that ensures other people getting takeout can do so.

Andrea Lucht DiFebo  

Posted: August 12th, 2020 10:16 AM

In response to a comment reflecting frustration with getting a parking ticket on Madison, please don't punish local businesses because of a Village parking ordinance. If we want businesses to succeed, as stated in the comment, continue to patronize these wonderful places. I think we can bite the bullet and pay the nominal parking fee. Forest Park businesses need our support.

Doug Harvin  

Posted: August 10th, 2020 1:11 PM

The Village is certainly making it hard on local businesses to succeed. I was on Madison St last Thursday around 7:00 to pick up a take-out order. The street was so empty that I could park right in front of the restaurant. When I came out 5 or 10 minutes later, sure enough I had a parking ticket. The streets are empty. The restaurants are nearly empty. And the Village is further discouraging anyone from visiting a business by issuing parking tickets. I'll pay the $30 ticket. But that is the last time I eat on Madison Street.

Leah Ann Shapiro from FOREST PARK  

Posted: August 7th, 2020 5:01 PM

I would also like to add the ice cream parlours and barbeque take out places as well as a good variety of ethnic restaurants. Do folks really need to spend money on liquor at this time?

Leah Ann Shapiro from FOREST PARK  

Posted: August 7th, 2020 4:58 PM

I am so pleased to see that bars without food will have these restrictions. I went to a few for fundraisers and was disgusted. What is so good about crowding and people getting drunk? I wish they would all close at least by 12:00. I have been a member of MADD for many years and do not approve of drinking and driving. Forest Park is now known for its wonderful restaurants and quaint coffee shops which are very popular in our town and neighboring towns.

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