Metro East mayors ask Illinois governor to allow their cities to reopen for business


WATERLOO, Ill. – Mayors in the Metro East are pushing back against Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s plan to reopen Illinois.

They want to reopen their cities faster than current state guidelines.

In Waterloo, Illinois, the mayor is worried that if businesses don’t open soon, they may not reopen at all. Downtown Waterloo has become a nightspot for dining and drinking, but restaurants have been reduced to carry out and establishments that sell only liquor have not had income.

Waterloo is just one of several communities feeling the economic pinch and more competition now that Missouri restaurants and businesses have reopened.

The Southwestern Illinois Mayors Conference, representing mayors in Monroe, Madison, St. Clair, Clinton, and Jersey counties sent a letter to Governor Pritzker asking for him to lift the stay at home order for this area, which has had a significantly lower number of coronavirus cases than other parts of the state.

“Right now, with Missouri opening up and the restaurants opening up and getting a haircut people are going over there to get a haircut and I call it getting out jail,” said Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith.

Jeff Vogt owns JV’s Downtown Bar and grill said, “We’re just hoping for some things like cocktails to go perhaps from liquor control. If he’s going to shut us down for another month there needs to be some more give and take here for the bars.”

“It’s a struggle. We’re doing our jobs but it’s tough when you don’t have anybody dining in,” said Fredi Braho, owner of Frederico’s Italiano Ristorante.

Mayor Smith says he’s willing to look at approving outdoor dining for restaurants so they can increase business.

“I’m willing to have dining in the streets,” he said. “We can close some streets off. The city council mentioned last night that; we’re willing to take a look at that.”

Mayor Smith says Governor Priztker has not yet responded to the mayors’ letter. The mayor has a plan in place and is ready to have businesses here open in a safe and healthy way.

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