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Rockford restaurant owners say they shouldn’t be blamed for a spike in COVID-19 cases

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ROCKFORD (WREX)— On Wednesday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said a lot of the COVID-19 cases in Region 1 can be traced back to bars and restaurants. Some restaurant owners disagree and say that is not true.

"I think they are inaccurate associations with restaurants," said Lima Mar owner Ross Terry. "I think we are being unjustly persecuted."

"I think the spike occurred when kids went back to school and people started going back out in the world," said Magpie owner Stephanie Caltagerone

Stephanie Caltagerone says she also doesn't agree restaurants are too blame. She says it's because restaurants like hers have done everything to stop the spread.

"We have gone above and beyond as far as spacing, fresh air, sanitizing, meeting the needs of our customers, meeting the rules of the health department,"said Caltagerone.

But they aren't the only ones frustrated. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says he understands that mitigation has to be put in place to help stop the spread. But he says more planning should have been done.

"I think there is an alternative approach and a more fair and balanced approach instead of putting all of the burden again on restaurant owners," said McNamara.

Even more so, they say the move to indoor dining comes at a horrible time.

"Winter is coming and we can't adequately seat people outside," said Terry.

These business owners say they wish state health officials would have sat down and worked with them to create a plan.

"Just seeing what some other cities are doing, it feels like there could have been a little more communication, corruption, and planning," said Caltagerone

The City of Rockford says it will work to find loans or programs that can help local restaurant owners.

Lauren Baker

Lauren Baker is the 13 News weekend evening anchor. She started in April of 2019 after moving from Michigan, where she was a morning producer/traffic reporter.

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