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Illinois bars and restaurants close doors to dine-in customers

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on Sunday ordered the closure from end of business on March 16 to March 30.

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — Local bars and restaurants are bracing for the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. On Monday, kitchen crews, wait staffs and bartenders served their last lunch and dinner to dine-in customers for two weeks. 

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered the measure Sunday from end of business Monday to March 30th in an effort to help slow down the spread of the deadly virus. 

But, the mandate has resulted in a lot of managers grappling with what this means for their staff.

"I called for an all staff meeting yesterday afternoon. Sat down with all of our staff just so there wasn’t panic," said Brent Smith, operations manager at Brandon's Pub & Grille in Rock Island. "We care very much about our employees around here."

St. Patrick's Day falls on Tuesday this week, which would typically be a big money-maker for an Irish pub. 

"Everybody here is basically kind of paycheck to paycheck," said server Deb Kettler. "And they depend on that money they’re going to make next week to pay for their rent next week."

If there's hope, it's that the state will allow drive-through and pick-up services, meaning at least the kitchen can remain open throughout the next two weeks, and local businesses will be able to collect some revenue. 

Smith said he hopes that will mean the paychecks will keep flowing to his staff.

"We'll be able to make sure that they are still able to get a paycheck, and still be able to make money and take care of their families," said Smith.