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“It’s all of us”: Restaurant owners wait to restart indoor dining

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CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- Some restaurants in Southern Illinois are opting not to reopen dine-in services just yet.

Over the weekend, state health officials upgraded mitigation levels in Region 5--- which comprises of the 19 southernmost counties in the state--- to Tier 1.

Shawnna Rhine, public information officer for Southern Seven Health Department, called the swift change in mitigations 'a pleasant surprise'. Region 5 ended Friday in Tier 2 mitigations and ended Saturday in Tier 1.

"People in our region are taking the mitigation measures to heart," Rhine said.

But Rhine insists residents need to continue following those measures or risk rolling back and halt indoor dining again.

"We could see an uptick again and it's happened before. It's happened a couple times," Rhine said.

STAFFING ISSUES

Hunan Restaurant took to Facebook one day after the new mitigations were announced. The restaurant said it would not open for indoor dining until it hires and trains more staff.

Courtesy: Hunan Restaurant Facebook page

Owner and CEO David Kuan says training new employees on perfecting Asian cuisine and the state's guidelines is a time consuming process. Kuan hopes to hire as many employees as he can.

"It all depends on what experiences they have," Kuan said. "Asian food takes a little while to learn."

As indoor dining awaits its return to Hunan, the restaurant will continue offering curbside options.

NOT WORTH THE HASSLE

Empty tables and curbside services are the new norm at New Kahala Chinese Cuisine in Carbondale. The restaurant has 10 tables, which is too small to reopen for indoor dining says manager William Lo.

"It's not worth the hassle. It's not worth trying to make people sit at these few tables," Lo said.

In the meantime, New Kahala will continue offering curbside delivery and pickup options.

Lo called the mitigations 'a sigh of relief' but still doesn't want to put his employees at risk. He hopes the mitigations won't change, adding that it will take a village to keep from rolling back.

"I think it takes all of us to keep it down," Lo said. "It's not one person, it's not two people."

"It's all of us."

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Danny Valle

Danny Valle anchors News 3 This Morning on Saturday and Sunday and reports Monday-Wednesday at News 3 WSIL. He joined the team in 2017 as a morning producer, before becoming an anchor in 2018, and reporter in 2019. Danny graduated from SIU-Carbondale in 2015, earning a Bachelor’s in Electronic Journalism with a specialization in Sports Broadcasting.

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