Saturday, The Forum, which is usually filled to capacity with music blaring, remained empty and silent.
In a photo posted to their Twitter account, the popular nightclub said, “After reflecting on the number of Western Illinois University students who are self quarantining waiting on test results or who are considering testing over the weekend, we are voluntarily choosing to close this evening. Last night was a good indication that most students are doing the right thing and staying home as they quarantine.” The statement, however, marks no indefinite closure for The Forum, continuing on to say, “We look forward to seeing you next weekend and everyone please stay safe.” Whether or not the forum will open this Friday will likely depend upon the rate of infection of Western Illinois University students
On Friday, The Forum had a different sentiment in mind, posting a tweet with a photo attached that said, “As per new state mandate everyone must wear a face mask to enter all bars and restaurants. Do the right thing. Neck Up, Mask Up.” As evidenced by the closure Saturday, The Forum decided the “right thing” was to close the doors to students and members of the public while many of them awaited test results.
While the bar opted to open on Friday night, this statement and closure came Saturday afternoon, following a notice from the McDonough County Health Department. The notice, titled “Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) exposure at local bar,” said, “In the course of their contact tracing investigation efforts, the McDonough County Health Department (MCHD) was informed of a public exposure to COVID-19 at The Forum in Macomb, IL on 8/22/20 and 8/23/20.” At the time of the public exposure to the virus, the Forum hosted a two-day event proclaimed on their Twitter account as the “Freaky Tiki Semester Kick Off.” Hidden within the graphic posted on their Twitter is a mask on a tiki that reads, “Please use good judgement.” While this event was intended to kick the semester off, it may have actually kicked the outbreak off, leading to a rise in cases among students reported by Western Illinois University.
While The Forum closing may have pleased administrators at Western Illinois University due to their stance on any large gatherings, other bars in town such as The Ritz, The Change of Pace and The Cafe remained open to students and the people of Macomb. With campuses and college towns shutting down around the country every day, it remains unclear whether or not Western Illinois University will decide to move classes fully online and whether or not bars will be able to operate this semester in a healthy, safe manner.