As you know, millions of businesses across the country have been forced to close due to COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders. Obviously, that has impacted their employees — more than 20 million of them are out of work.

The impact is being felt just as dramatically here in Rockford.

The restaurant industry has been particularly hard hit. Some owners have been very creative in coming up with ways to keep their businesses going and at least some of their employees working.

The Better Business Bureau was founded by business owners to insure a fair and equitable marketplace for businesses and consumers. In doing that everyone benefits. While there are issues of commerce that we must still be concerned with, keeping the businesses open is the most important.

Until the stay-at-home and social-distancing orders are lifted there’ll be no going out for dinner.

Restaurants are allowed curbside service, pick-up and delivery. Many have creatively used those opportunities.

We all have favorite restaurants and we can help. The Better Business Bureau is inviting you to #815 Great Takeout to Dine In.

BBB has joined with the Rockford Chapter 59 of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (local restaurants), Rockford Buzz, Ronin Branding & Consulting, and Fats Productions for a virtual dinner party.

It’s a night when everyone, individuals and families, are being invited to dine together to show their support for their friends and families who own and work in our city’s many local restaurants.

Using Zoom and Facebook Live we’ll all be able to come together and help our fellow Rockfordians.

#815 Great Take Out to Dine In will take place at 6 p.m. on two separate nights: Wednesday, April 22 and Friday, April 24.

On Wednesday night we’ll have a digital emcee to host a trivia game for interactive participation. On Friday, you can sit back, eat and laugh with the local comedians who will be featured.

On those nights you can find the links to the events on the Rockford Buzz website

If you have questions call the BBB at 815-963-2222.

COVID-19 update

Starting with the good news, complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about robocalls are way down. But those that are being filed are about callers using the COVID-19 pandemic to pretend to be from the government, or making illegal medical or health care pitches.

The top complaint categories relate to travel and vacations, online shopping, bogus text messages and all kinds of impostors.

Dollars lost to impostor scammers has topped 13 million. So, COVID-19 has turned out to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for con-artists. That means we all must be more vigilant.

If you’re getting calls, emails, or texts, or you’re seeing ads or offers online, keep these things top of mind: The government will never call out of the blue to ask for money or your personal information.

Anyone who tells you to pay by Western Union or Money Gram, or by putting money on a gift card, is a scammer. The government and legit businesses will never tell you to pay that way.

If you have questions about an online purchase you plan to make, or if you get a call, text message or email you think is suspicious, call the BBB to check it out. We’re at 815-963-2222 or visit our website at

Dennis Horton is director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau.