By Katie Davison, Innovate Springfield, and Lisa Clemmons Stott, Downtown Springfield Inc.

More than 1400 Sangamon County residents responded to a survey this week gauging how they are feeling heading into today’s Phase 3 reopening.

They are ready to get their haircut and visit the doctor. A majority plan to wait longer to visit a museum or ticketed arts performance, work out in a gym or be inside a bar.

The survey results can be viewed here:

When considering dining at a restaurant, approximately 40% said that they are ready to do so in June, with nearly 30% saying they weren’t sure when they would be ready. When asked what type of interaction with the restaurant was preferred, nearly half of the respondents said that they would continue curbside or delivery only; while 30% said they are either ready for a return to normal dining or willing to sit indoors in a restaurant with reservations (which is not an option until Phase 4). Another 16% expressed a preference for outdoor seating at a restaurant only, which is allowed starting today, meaning that 46% of respondents may be likely to enjoy a dining experience outside of their homes sometime soon.

When asked about their habits, a whopping 86% of respondents said they would continue using curbside pickup, whether offered by retail or restaurant. With 60% of respondents having shopped more online since the start of the pandemic, 70% are somewhat likely or very likely to shop locally over national websites if there is a local, online choice.

Phase 3 includes the ability to gather in groups  of 10 or less people. When asked about their comfort level at attending large indoor events, 36% of respondents were not comfortable to attend any indoor event in person and 27% of respondents were comfortable with any size crowd, with a slight majority of those noting that social distancing must be in place. Fifteen percent were comfortable with crowds under 50 people. Age ranges most likely to feel comfortable attending indoor or outdoor events were under age 24 and between the ages of 45-54.

Respondents were slightly more comfortable when considering large outdoor events. Forty percent were comfortable with any size crowd, with the majority of those noting that social distancing must be in place. More than a quarter of respondents said they were not comfortable enough to attend any outdoor event in person.

As small retailers prepare to open today with fewer than 10 customers at any one time, and restaurants and bars are allowed to serve customers only in outdoor seating, we asked Sangamon County residents which procedures made them feel safest to visit a local business.

The top five were:

  1. Employees wearing masks (with 70% expressing this preference)
  2. Space between customers/limiting customers/spacing out tables
  3. See employees disinfecting the business
  4. Other customers wearing masks
  5. No waiting area clusters
Of the respondents to the survey, 70% live in Springfield zip codes, 11% live in Chatham, 11% live elsewhere in rural Sangamon County, and 8% either didn’t live locally or didn’t respond to the question about zip code.

The survey was conducted between May 24-May 27, 2020 by economic development agencies in Sangamon County including Downtown Springfield Inc, Innovate Springfield, The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, the City of Springfield, Local First Springfield, Macarthur Boulevard Association, the Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois SBDC at Lincoln Land Community College and the Springfield-Sangamon Growth Alliance.

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