SYCAMORE – The city of Sycamore will provide plastic safety screens made by Sycamore-based Upstaging Inc. for every business in the city to be used for customer-facing counters in anticipation of entering the third phase to reopen the state at the end of this month.
“We all want to support these business owners,” City Manager Brian Gregory said. “These are our friends and neighbors, but we also want to be as safe as possible.”
Gregory said 1st Ward Alderman Josh Huseman approached him with the idea after the city began weighing how it could provide additional aid to struggling businesses. The screens, meant to protect business owners, staff and residents, will cost the city $80 a pop, and will take Upstaging between three and five days to make out of Plexiglass for all businesses who request one. They would be installed as a barrier for customer or public office spaces, and sit atop the counter to mitigate potential germ spread among residents.
If a business owner wishes to acquire a screen, they should contact the city.
“There’s a ton of ways that we could offer support to our local businesses,” Huseman said. “A one-size-fits-all is probably pretty tricky, and anything we can do incrementally to grease the wheels of commerce so people feel safe, we should do it.”
Each screen will have a sticker with the words “Sycamore Strong” affixed to it, according to city documents. The City Council voted, 7-0, to reallocate $35,000 in funds already budgeted for the city’s facade grant program to instead pay for the screens, Gregory said.
“We’re forgoing something else that may not be utilized this summer given the current circumstances and reallocating those funds,” he said.
The screens will not be a requirement mandated by the city, Gregory said, although he said he expects specific guidelines in Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan Phase 3 to include stipulations and public safety rules for reopening. Under Phase 3 of the plan, retail, barbershops and salons would be allowed to reopen, and as of Monday, DeKalb County remains on track to hit criteria laid out by the governor for phase movement.
Gregory said there won’t be a cap on how many businesses can request to have a shield made for them, although for the first round, they’ll limit it to one per business until additional decisions are made. If a business knows they would like more than one, Gregory said they should reach out to Upstaging directly.
“It might not give the most business-welcoming image,” Gregory said. “But my opinion is this would be any private business that operates in Sycamore.”
Upstaging, an event production company, began making face shields for front-line workers back in March, and has rerouted its operation to accommodate for personal protective equipment in the county.
“Hopefully as we look to chart the waters of what the new norm looks like,” Gregory said, “this would be one small tool to start that journey.”