DECATUR — Walking into Spare Time Lanes for the first time in almost three months was a moment the Jones family will always remember.
“We have been going here for a very long time and we couldn’t wait for them to reopen,” said Brandie Jones. “Both of our boys usually do the morning youth leagues. Me and my husband have been on couple’s leagues. We’ve been missing it.”
Businesses that offer indoor recreational activities like bowling were one of many to reopen Friday as Illinois entered Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. Since March, all nonessential businesses have been closed or operating under strict limitations.
“Every weekend almost, during the winter season especially when there is nothing else to do, this is where we come,” Jones said, adding that she has been going to Spare Time, at 2870 N. Jasper St., since she was a teenager.
Executive orders that closed a multitude of businesses have left owners wondering if they would be able to make ends meet. Spare Time owner Gary Haines said the business lost about $400,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Haines said he was glad they were able to reopen on Friday and will follow all of the state guidelines.
Some of those rules include allowing limited capacities with social distancing at restaurants, indoor recreation, government meetings, museums, zoos and theaters.
Restaurants, which opened for outdoor dining at the end of May, were allowed to offer indoor dining on Friday with groups of 10 or less, tables spaced 6-feet apart in seated areas and standing areas at no more than 25% capacity.
Kalin Gaines, owner and manager of Kansas City Barbecue Pit at 2645 N. Oakland Ave., said it was great to see regulars and new customers dine-in for the first time in a while. The restaurant kept its limited seating filled throughout a busy lunch rush while others ordered takeout.
One customer, Josephine Ricks of Decatur, ordered barbecue chicken for lunch on Friday.
“The service is wonderful and they try to accommodate you,” Ricks said.
Gaines said they took some time during slow periods over the last few months to rework recipes and create an even better experience for when customers were able to return for indoor dining.
“We invested a lot more time in ourselves and our business and at the same time everyone came out and supported and made this feel like a whole different restaurant,” he said.
Health and fitness centers also reopened under the new guidelines. They are allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Group fitness classes cannot exceed 50 people under the new safety guidelines.
Chris Smegal, a regular of Planet Fitness in Decatur, said this was a welcome change.
"I got to see all of my friends again," he said. "That felt really good."
Smegal said he has been working out in the meantime, but he was excited to get back inside the Decatur location which he has been visiting since it first opened.
State officials said Illinois wouldn’t move into Phase 5, the final phase in the Restore plan, until there is a coronavirus vaccine or a widely available treatment or if there is an elimination of any new cases over a sustained period of time.
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Contact Analisa Trofimuk at (217) 421-7985. Follow her on Twitter: @AnalisaTro
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