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COVID-19 UPDATES FROM THE MAYOR

LAST UPDATED NOVEMBER 25, 2020

CITY LAUNCHES HOSPITALITY GRANT PROGRAM

The City of Rockford has launched a Hospitality Grant Program. This $900,000 grant program is targeted towards Rockford’s restaurants and bars that continue to face significant challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. The grant program reallocates CARES Act funding to supplement state and federal relief programs with grants of up to $7,500 to independent bars and restaurants throughout the City that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and the State’s mitigation measures. Funding will be awarded in mid-December.

The application period is closed. Applications are currently being processed.

CONDUCTING CITY BUSINESS

City hall will be closed to the public beginning November 20.

For more information and guidance about how to conduct business with the City of Rockford, click here.

LIQUOR LICENSE FEE REBATE

We know that bars and restaurants are being greatly impacted by the current enhanced state-mandated mitigations. To help, we’ve passed a rebate of 50% of annual liquor license fees for bars and restaurants.  If an owners has already paid the annual fee in full, the City will rebate 50%. If the owner has only paid the first installment, they will not be required to pay a second installment when they file a renewal application. 

ENHANCED MITIGATIONS

On November 20, Illinois went into a new phase of enhanced mitigation measures due to the high positivity rate.

Enhanced Mitigation Measures

FACE COVERING ENFORCEMENT

On July 23, Village Presidents and Mayors from our area announced they will increase enforcement of the face covering requirement.

News Release on Enforcement

OUTDOOR DINING

When we moved into Phase 3 on May 29, the City developed Outdoor Seating Guidelines and an Outdoor Sidewalk Cafe Application for restaurants. These resources still apply in Phase 4.

Outdoor Seating Guidelines

Outdoor Sidewalk Cafe Application

Sale of Mixed Drinks/Cocktails

Tent and Outdoor Cooking Requirements

Here are other ways we helped restaurants reopen for outdoor dining:

• Dedicating Public Works and Community and Economic Development Department staff to facilitate an expedite the approval process for all outdoor seating.
• Waiving permit fees associated with establishment of outdoor seating areas for restaurants on public and private property.
• Allowing temporary outdoor seating areas in private parking lots, sidewalks, public lots and alley’s (subject to safety standards).
• Suspending the liquor license approval process for existing restaurant license holders to expand or create outdoor seating areas.

If you have additional questions, please email businessfirst@rockfordil.gov.

ROCKFORD REGION REBOUNDING WORKGROUPS

In order for us to be ready to both create and navigate our new post-COVID reality, Mayor McNamara established Rockford Rebounding working groups. These groups are developing ideas and recommendations for our City team, City Council and the broader community to act upon and help build a stronger city than we were prior to COVID-19.

For a list of the workgroups, click here

CASES

On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), confirmed a case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Rockford region.

On March 31, the Winnebago County Health Department announced the first death related to COVID-19 in Winnebago County.

As of November 30, there are 18,465 confirmed cases in Winnebago County.

BUSINESS RESOURCES

We’ve compiled a list of resources for businesses. Click here for the list. For the list in Spanish, click here.

The City has processed loan applications for 25 qualified microenterprise businesses, each receiving $15,000 for working capital with 70% of those businesses minority-and women-owned. In response to the COVID-19 impact on our small businesses, the City re-opened another round of loan applications which started September 14 and has modified the program to include a $10,000 grant for a total funding of $25,000 to each microenterprise recipient. Previous recipients are eligible for the grant; however all new funding requires acceptance of the full disbursement. Due to the response, the City is currently processing the new round of applications and will consider each on a first-come, first-served basis. The City anticipates funding an additional 20 loans for working capital. For more information concerning the Microenterprise Loan Program, please e-mail businessfirst@rockfordil.gov.

SMALL BUSINESS LOANS

On March 25, Mayor McNamara, joined by members of the local banking industry, announced the creation of the COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Loan Fund. The loan fund, established by the Northern Illinois Community Development Corporation and managed by the Rockford Local Development Corporation, is funded by the City of Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois Bank and Trust, Associated Bank, WinTrust, Midwest Community Bank, Blackhawk Bank, Northwest Bank, Stillman BancCorp and Sunil Puri. To date, $2 million has been raised with other financial institutions committing to support the fund. For more information, click here.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE AND HOTEL-MOTEL TAX 

In an effort to alleviate the impact the Stay at Home order has had on restaurants, bars and the hotel and tourism industry, the City deferred collection of our Food and Beverage Tax and our Hotel-Motel Tax.

For more information on recent liquor sale changes, click here.

CDC RECOMMENDATIONS

The CDC recommends some best practices and common-sense steps to prevent infection and avoid exposure:

  • Cover coughs or sneezes.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect frequently-touched objects, such as cellphones, laptops, and countertops.

The CDC also notes that patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • If you have symptoms, please call your health provider or physician’s office BEFORE visiting a clinic or Emergency Department.

BEST RESOURCES

QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS

If you have questions or concerns, call 815-319-6705 or email COVID19@wchd.org.