Gov. Pritzker's reopening plan provides hope for theaters, music venues

Venues like Fitzgerald's in Berwyn have had to get very creative to stay afloat since the start of the pandemic.

Operators say the revised reopening plan isn't anything that will enable them to run stable businesses, but it's a huge step in the right direction, and a very positive sign of things to come.

"Creativity is kind of the word of the year," said Will Duncan, owner of Fitzgerald’s.

It's normally a venue that can serve 200, but over the pandemic winter, Fitzgerald's offered traveling concerts, sold merchandise, offered cocktails-to-go and private event space to stay afloat. 

So, hearing of the easing of restrictions on venues is very welcomed. 

"It's really important to articulate what great news this is for Illinois," said Duncan.

However, he says, venues his size run on tight margins and the 25 percent capacity allowance announced by the Governor Thursday isn't enough to stay viable.

"Fifty people in a venue that can serve 200 is a nice step forward, but it's still a big challenge," said Duncan.


"We are a shoulder-to-shoulder type of business. We've always looked at reopening for us being Phase 5 to truly be back to normal," said Robert Gomez, the owner of Subterranean.

But, better news for these small venues may soon be on the horizon.

Pritzker says as soon as 70 percent of Illinois adults over 65 get the vaccine, they can fill up to sixty percent.

"There's nothing like being in a club, shoulder to shoulder, sweaty, dancing, drink in your hand, incredible band on the stage, there's nothing like that. And nobody has experienced that in far too long," said Duncan.

As of Thursday, Illinois has vaccinated 58 percent of adults 65 and over.  When that hits 70 percent, the state will be in what Gov. Pritzker calls "the bridge phase," which means we will be on the cusp of returning to normal, something these venues are hoping can happen by late summer, early fall.