When Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Illinois' second indoor dining ban in October due to surging COVID-19 numbers, many restauranteurs hoped the restrictions would be short-lived.
Three months later, restaurants in Illinois towns like Calumet City and Lansing that border northwest Indiana say they are seeing customers lured away by Indiana eateries not subject to the same restrictions, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
Sylvia Coco, who owns Kilroy's and Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop in Lansing, said her business is off substantially, perhaps more than than 50%, and one constant has been the looser rules for restaurants and bars in the Hoosier State.
"Indiana is pretty much open and doing whatever they want," Coco said.
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Dorian Menchaca, owner of Don Pedro's Mexican Bar and Grill in Calumet City, said his business is down about 50% from what it was during the first shutdown. He knows his customers are going to Hammond, Munster and other nearby Indiana border towns for the opportunity to dine in.
"Not only have I heard it, I've seen it with my customers posting on social media they're dining out in Indiana," Menchaca said. "It's just one of those things."
Tom Dabertin, a board member of the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce, said he's noticed the influx of Illinois diners.
"We're seeing increased business in both restaurants and stores, even at local drive-thrus," he said. "We're seeing a lot more traffic and revenue due to the bans in Illinois. People come here to eat a meal and then shop."
On Sunday, Indiana public health officials announced Sunday that 56 more people have died from COVID-19.
The Indiana Department of Health reported the deaths with 3,002 new cases. Overall, 8,111 Indiana residents have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
State health officials reported another 364 probable deaths. They're based on based on clinical diagnosis but there's no positive test on record. Health official report nearly 530,000 deaths in total.
Health officials say the latest recorded seven-day positive COVID-19 test rate in the state is 14.7%. Health officials say there have been nearly 5.8 million tests administered since late February.
WLS-TV contributed to this report
The video in the media player above was used in a previous report.