BELLEVILLE, Ill. – TR’s Place in Belleville is completely vacant inside its main building and dining room. It’s remained empty inside since Illinois’ lockdown two weeks ago. Meanwhile, COVID numbers outside have only increased.
“It doesn’t make sense to me because the numbers keep going up but yet we are actually complying,” said server Kelly Barbri.
Barbri is one of many workers who wonders when they’ll run out of money.
“Tips have gone down a lot because we don’t have the people we used to,” she said.
They’re closed inside as ordered but COVID positivity rates in the Metro East keep climbing. The positivity rate was 9.7 percent two weeks ago when the lockdown started. It’s risen every day since then – up to 16.3 percent as of the last update.
Many people in the restaurant industry we’ve spoken with believe that keeping people out of restaurants, isn’t resulting in them making safe choices. Barbri, for instance, said customers listen to her when she tells them to wear their mask.
“They follow the rule for us,” she said. “They respect Kim, our owner; they respect us girls and they don’t really have a problem with it.”
Attorney Thomas DeVore of the firm Silver Lake Group, Ltd. is representing hundreds of Illinois restaurants trying to convince Governor J.B. Pritzker his lockdowns are misguided.
“These restaurants are absolutely top notch at safety and keeping these types of things from happening and they’re following social distance guidelines. I’ve got my mask right here if I get up out of this chair,” he said.
“It’s his desire to stifle the gathering of people within these restaurants. What I don’t think they appreciate is when you take that away, (citizens) go do it at home in a less controlled environment, so positivity can ramp up by your very efforts and I think that’s what’s going on in Illinois.”
Barbri’s boss, Kim Gallagher, fought back tears as she talked about the impact on her work family.
“They’re also my friends. Most of them are single moms and it’s Christmas time. It’s sad,” Gallagher said.
TR’s Place is abiding by the guidelines. They’re doing takeout only and seating people only outside in a tent and in their open garage.
“This our livelihood and our income,” Barbri said.