New COVID-19 restrictions from Gov. Pritzker draw pushback from mayors, restaurant owners

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Indoor dining ban in effect for much of area, with Lake, McHenry counties and Chicago restrictions to go in place this week

By Jesse Kirsch, ABC7 News

New COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining from Governor Pritzker in effect in much of the Chicago area have drawn pushback from suburban mayors and restaurant owners.

The restrictions are now in effect for suburban Cook County as well as DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties. They go into effect in Chicago on Friday and Lake and McHenry counties on Saturday.

A full list of the new COVID-19 mitigation measures is included at the bottom of this article.

Orland Park, Libertyville, Itasca, Morton Grove and even Aurora have asked Governor Pritzker to reconsider the restrictions.

“The order allows a health club where people are sweating and breathing heavily to remain open,” said Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler. “It allows groups of 25 people to get together and obviously they’re together they can eat, drink. So just targeting restaurants to me is kind of arbitrary.”

Skeptical of the governor’s mitigation plan, Mayor Weppler says starting this weekend, his village will not penalize restaurants for continuing to serve people indoors

“If they have to close again after all the time they were closed before they’re not going to need a liquor license because they’re not going to stay in business,” Weppler said.

The Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau is also refusing to enforce the restrictions, saying health data he’s seen doesn’t back up the governor’s moves.

“It is high time for governor to share the data he is using,” Mayor Pekau said. Stop hiding it.”

“A majority of us small town mayors feel that it is vital to keep restaurants open,” said Morton Grove Mayor Dan DiMaria.

The calls for transparency have come from Aurora as well.

Tredwell Coffee owner Chad Dawes has already been operating under the mitigation plan for several days, immediately feeling the impact. Revenue has plunged 40% and is continuing to trickle down.

“It’s been rainy, it’s been kind of just dreary to be out on the river out on the patio and if I can’t have anybody inside then all my businesses carry out and take away,” Dawes said.

Aurora’s Mayor Richard Irvin has not gone as far as waving off the indoor service restrictions, but sent Governor Pritzker a letter saying he too does not see local health data backing up the governor’s claim that restaurants and bars are COVID-19 hot spots.

Business owners in Lake and McHenry counties are worried, with restrictions going into place Saturday.

“My job, my livelihood, my staff’s livelihood, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Tom Garrity, owner of The Toadstool Pub.

“I think we all kind of knew it was coming, but it stinks,” said Darcy Mosconi, owner of Sandy’s Diner. “I just don’t think it’s fair.”

But the governor pointed to the region 9 numbers with three straight days of a test positivity rate above 8-percent and COVID-related hospitalizations five times higher than in June.

“Things are bad in Region 9 and getting worse,” Governor Pritzker said.

But are restaurants to blame?

“I’m not sure the governor can prove that being in a restaurant creates, is increasing the risk, but our restaurants have taken the measures that they need to take,” Mayor DiMaria said. “They’ve scaled back.”

“To the extent that we can limit interactions in places where we know there’s spread, that’s what we’re trying to do, especially in the midst of a COVID storm that’s hit the state and the nation,” Governor Pritzker said.

Governor Pritzker on Thursday provided an update on a program to help struggling businesses.

Illinois recently announced a second round of business interruption grants, with $220 million available to help small businesses including restaurants.

New COVID-19 mitigations for Chicago and suburban Cook County

Bars:

-No indoor service
-All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.
-All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
-No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
-Tables should be 6 feet apart
-No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
-No dancing or standing indoors
-Reservations required for each party
-No seating of multiple parties at one table

Restaurants

-No indoor dining or bar service
-All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.
-Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart
-No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
-Reservations required for each party
-No seating of multiple parties at one table

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings

-Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity
-No party buses
-Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable

This article originally appeared on ABC7 News.

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