City of Rochelle renews commitment to small businesses

Bars, restaurants to see new COVID-19 mitigations beginning Oct. 3


ROCHELLE — The City of Rochelle has renewed its commitment to assisting small businesses after Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and state health officials announced new COVID-19 mitigations for Region 1, which includes Ogle County and several other counties, Tuesday afternoon.

Local restaurants and bars affected by the new mitigations will be eligible to receive up to $1,000 per week over six weeks in grant funding. Businesses with established drive-thru, delivery or carry-out services prior to COVID-19 may apply for lesser amounts. An application for grant funding will be available on the City of Rochelle website beginning Friday, Oct. 2.

“This is the time to come together and support our small businesses,” Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows said. “These are the entrepreneurs who support our Little League teams and give to the local causes on our hearts.”

Additionally, the City of Rochelle has implemented a Shop Local Incentive for Rochelle Municipal Utility customers. Customers who spent $300 at local businesses deemed nonessential under Pritzker’s executive order may submit receipts to earn a $60 credit on a utility bill. Residents can utilize this program twice per household through the end of 2021.

“Our small businesses are vital to the economy,” Rochelle City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said. “It’s essential that we do everything to support them through this by investing in the community. I encourage all of our residents to do the same.”

The City of Rochelle and the Rochelle Chamber of Commerce will offer a Restaurant Gift Card Giveaway this fall. By spending $25 at five restaurants affected by the mitigations, residents may submit receipts to receive a $25 gift card to a local restaurant of their choice.

The City of Rochelle has also established a Façade Improvement Program and Cash Mob in addition to waiving building permits for small businesses in the community as a means to assist the entrepreneurs in the community.

The new COVID-19 mitigations announced Tuesday will take effect on Saturday, Oct. 3. The new mitigations come after Region 1 saw a seven-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8 percent or higher for three consecutive days, which exceeds the threshold set for establishing mitigation measures under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan. The new mitigations do not currently apply to schools.

“The concerning uptick in Region 1’s positivity – jumping more than two percentage points in two weeks even as the majority of Illinois continues to see downward trends – demands increased efforts to stop the spread in our northwestern counties,” Pritzker said. “As other regions have demonstrated, stricter mitigations will lead to safer communities when people mask up, keep their distance, wash their hands and respect public health.”

The COVID-19 restrictions for bars taking effect on Oct. 3 include no indoor service, no standing or dancing indoors, no seating of multiple parties at one table and no standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting. All outside bar service must close at 11 p.m. and all bar patrons should be seated at tables outside. Tables should be 6 feet apart and reservations will be required for each party.

The COVID-19 restrictions for restaurants taking effect on Oct. 3 include no indoor dining or bar service, no seating of multiple parties at one table and no standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting. All outdoor dining must close at 11 p.m. and outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart. Reservations will be required for each party.

The COVID-19 restrictions for meetings, social events and gatherings taking effect on Oct. 3 include limiting to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity and no party buses. Gaming and casinos must close at 11 p.m., be limited to 25 percent capacity and follow restrictions for bars and restaurants, if applicable.

“It is my hope that the residents of Region 1 can turn this situation around quickly, and Dr. Ezike and I continue to coordinate with local officials to make that happen,” Pritzker said.

Region 1 can return to Phase 4 guidelines under Restore Illinois if the positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5 percent for three consecutive days. If the positivity rate averages between 6.5 and 8 percent, the new restrictions will remain unchanged. More restrictions can be applied if the positivity rate averages more than or equal to 8 percent after 14 days.