HIGHLAND PARK, IL — A majority of respondents to a poll of Highland Park Patch readers said they were not comfortable dining out as the state entered Phase 4 of the governor's "Restore Illinois" coronavirus reopening plan.
More than 61 percent of local respondents said they wanted no part of in-person dining — whether inside or outside. Less than 11 percent were comfortable eating indoors at restaurants, which began opening indoor dining areas at up to 25 percent capacity on Friday.
Locally, more than 56 percent of people who took the poll said the the pace of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's multi-phase reopening plan was moving too fast — 10 times as many as said it is going too slow. About a third said it was going at the right pace.
Three out of four respondents to the unscientific survey said they will not change their behavior as the state enters its new phase of reopening. Less than 11 percent said they would.
Highland Park Patch readers expressed concern about Illinois opening up as coronavirus infection rates increase in other parts of the United States.
"I think Phase 4 is a huge mistake! All other states that have done that are in terrible with riding cases now," one reader said.
"I would have preferred we waited another two weeks to see a fuller picture of what is happening in states that reopened faster than us," commented another. "The two extra weeks would have been very little sacrifice compared to seeing a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths should this be proven to be too early to reopen."
Opinion was split among Highland Park area residents with children at home as to levels of comfort sending youngsters back to school or child care. Nearly 29 percent were already ready, more than 43 percent were not, while more than 30 percent said they were "not yet" comfortable.
Residents also provided feedback and suggestions for changes to the way the state is reopening. The most common refrain was "slow down" and the most frequently expressed desire a stricter mask mandate.
"While I will still be very careful about social distancing, wearing a mask, etc., I see that many others are becoming very lax in their social distancing and wearing of masks," one respondent said. "I hope that businesses and local [governments] still crack down on those who are not adhering to these measures. People seem to act like there is no more threat now that things are opening up again!"
When it comes to other newly permitted activities, a majority of poll respondents remained unready.
More than 80 percent said they were no longer comfortable patronizing a gym or a fitness center, with less than 13 percent saying they were.
Likewise, more than four out of five respondents said they would be uncomfortable returning to an indoor theater. Less than one in six said they would be comfortable at an outdoor entertainment event — half the rate of respondents in other north suburban communities.