The City of Aurora presented its business reopening plan during the Aurora City Council Meeting last night in advance of all regions in the state moving to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan this Friday.
The 10-page Active Aurora plan sets the guidelines for a phased reopening approach beginning with retail stores and restaurants. Forthcoming sections of the plan will include the reopening process for City services and amenities.
“The purpose of the plan is to provide guidance to retail stores and restaurants in Aurora on how to open and operate safely with the health and well-being of both employees and visitors as a priority,” said Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin.
Under the state’s guidelines, Friday, May 29 is the transition date from the current Phase 2 to Phase 3, which eases some restrictions while opening more retail businesses and restaurants for outdoor dining.
For retail stores in Aurora, the Active Aurora plan provides guidance from the International Council of Retail Shoppers regarding the planning process, effective communications and the implementation of approved safety procedures.
Business owners are advised to take such precautions as installing alcohol-based hand-cleaning dispensers, determining if masks or gloves will be provided to patrons, and providing employees training on sanitation and social distancing standards.
Additional measures, which have been implemented in larger chain stores that remained open during the Stay at Home Order, are now expected of all retail establishments including frequently cleaning high-touch areas, creating a one-way traffic flow, using sneeze guards at the cash register and implementing signage to designate social distancing while standing in line.
“This plan is flexible and can be updated to reflect new data, advancements, and situations,” said Aurora Chief of Staff Alex Alexandrou. “While many of the larger national chains have been open and transitioning to the new procedures during this process, this really helps our smaller, local businesses within our community to reopen in a safe and streamlined manner.”
OUTDOOR SEATING AT RESTAURANTS
Many of those small businesses are part of Aurora’s well-established, diverse and consistently-growing restaurant scene, including eateries that have been operating for more than 60 years and those that recently opened just this year.
Since March, restaurants have had the option to operate through delivery, take-out and curbside pick-up. In Phase 3 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan, restaurants are allowed to reopen for outdoor dining beginning this Friday.
The Active Aurora plan outlines measures for restaurant owners and managers. Some of those measures include establishing a written COVID-19 prevention plan, measuring body temperature of all employees prior to the start of a new shift, and providing the necessary personal protective equipment to employees such as face masks and gloves.
In addition, all restaurants must use disposable menus, arrange tables at least 6 feet part, limit groups to no more than 6 people, only operate between 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and abide by the specific rules for serving alcohol outside.
“This is going to be unconventional, but we are in unconventional times,” said Mayor Irvin. “We are committed to doing what we have to do to get our restaurants back online and people back to work.”
Part of the unconventional plans include the types of outdoor dining options Aurora restaurants are allowed to offer to patrons. The Activate Aurora plan designates three options:
- Restaurants using already existing outdoor seating areas
- Restaurants using private parking lots and property as outdoor seating areas
- Restaurants using City-owned property and public rights-of-way as outdoor seating areas
Any restaurant seeking to temporarily add or expand outdoor dining areas on City Property or into parking lots must apply for a permit at www.aurora-il.org/CityClerk.
An exciting new opportunity for using City property could be the installation of parklets, which are sidewalk extensions that provide more outdoor space for restaurants by using adjacent parking spaces for seating.
“These are very popular in college towns and have worked well to provide more outdoor options for dining,” said Trevor Dick, Aurora’s director of Development Strategy and Facilitation.
The City is also in discussions with restaurants in the downtown to expand the use of City properties by closing off areas like Piney Street to serve patrons of the many restaurants on New York Street and the eastside of Stolp Avenue between Downer Place and Galena Blvd to provide outdoor seating for the four eateries that anchor the block: Altiro Latin Fusion, Amy Morton’s Stolp Island Social, Charlie’s Silver Spoon Creamery and the incoming Craft Urban.
During the presentation, staff displayed more than 10 more options for outdoor seating in the downtown.
“We hope some of these new layouts will become a permanent part of the new normal all over Aurora,” said Alexandrou.
Read the full Active Aurora plan at www.aurora-il.org/ActivateAurora
You can watch the full 25-minute Active Aurora presentation to the Aurora City Council at www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zFAyJtxPWI beginning at the 1:08:30 mark in the video.