Racine opens with restrictions, some business owners say limitations may prevent recovery

Patrick Todd

RACINE -- The City of Racine reopened Tuesday, May 26 under new "Forward Racine" guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic -- with restrictions depending on the type of business. IT brought relief to some business owners, and left others feeling frustrated. While some business owners said the "Forward Racine" guidelines are giving them a fighting chance after a long shutdown, others said the limitations could shut them down for good.

"It's been tough," said Patrick Todd of The Ivanhoe Pub and Eatery. "We're very happy to open up at 50% capacity. What that looks like in the next couple of weeks, and for our business, the health of our business, I don't know yet."

Under the "Forward Racine" guidelines, bars and restaurants may reopen at 50% capacity. Other retail stores and personal care establishments can reopen provided CDC guidelines are adhered to -- but some operations are restricted to allowing only 10 people inside at a time.

The Ivanhoe Pub and Eatery

The Ivanhoe Pub and Eatery

Phillip Ontko

"I have now been lumped in a group that will effectively close us down," said Phillip Ontko with Castle Lanes.

Ontko said he's fighting for the survival of his bowling alley -- a community staple.

"I do know I need something to change for us, or our future is in peril," said Ontko.

His business falls under the indoor recreational category -- meaning another month (June 30) before he can allow 25 people inside -- a tough spot to be in after a two-month shutdown.

"From March 18th to today, my revenue was $370," said Ontko. "My electric bill alone this month was $1,200 while shut down."

Castle Lanes

Castle Lanes

Ontko argued bowling alleys should have their own category, and operate with restrictions, as they are larger, and spacing out customers is easier. He said he's considering limiting operations just for bowling leagues -- which are easy to keep track of. He said he has also heavily invested in personal protective equipment.

"I do not question the motives of the mayor or health administrator," said Ontko. "Lack of understanding."

Two lawsuits were filed against the City of Racine over limitations on operations. Ontko said legal action could be a next step for him.

"They have pushed me into a position of survival of defending my employees, defending my livelihood, defending this place which is very cared for in the community," said Ontko.

FOX6 News reached out to the City of Racine -- asking what business owners can do if they feel their business has been incorrectly categorized. Officials said they would need to speak with the health department -- which is exactly what Ontko said he planned to do.

CLICK HERE to take a look at the "Forward Racine" guidelines.