Metro East businesses breaking state COVID orders are not always met with threats by officials

FOX Files

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. – Sgt. James Hendricks is one of the St. Clair County sheriff’s deputies who’s been cracking down on reported COVID violators.

“We’re trying to get everybody to voluntarily comply with what is necessarily to make sure their customers are safe,” he said.

Only two businesses have faced forced closures; one was Club Onyx in Centreville. When Sgt. Hendricks arrived for an inspection, he documented at least 270 people inside.

“…Numerous dancers who were walking around the crowd… most had no form of facial covering,” Hendricks wrote. “The building was so crowded that it was nearly impossible to walk around.”

Club Onyx was forced to shut down temporarily by the East Side Health District. It’s not the sheriff’s office that takes the enforcement action. They’re just documenting what’s happening.

“We’re reporting information back to those who have enforcement ability and they’re making the decision to shut them down or to fine them,” Hendricks said.

The second forced closure in St. Clair County was George’s Pub in East Carondelet, which temporarily lost its liquor license after two violation notices finding, “Business open during region closing period.”

Hendricks said the sheriff’s office does not consider itself COVID police. During most visits, he finds restaurants doing the right thing. During those visits where he finds questionable behavior, they like to help find solutions.

“‘How we can do it better,’ you know, maybe some re-education when it comes to the different violations and what they can do to actually become compliant,” Hendricks said.

FOX 2 asked about those outdoor dining tents. People want to know if they’re any different than eating inside.

Sgt. Hendricks said they are.

“Those tents are supposed to have ventilation coming through them and that’s the mind-set,” he said. “As long as there’s airflow coming through, it’s not the same as being in a closed-off building.”

That includes some buildings, such as Drake’s in O’Fallon, Illinois, where you can open at least one wall.

“Technically, that would be outside eating,” Hendricks said.

Here’s a list of St. Clair County businesses that have been issued COVID-19 violation notices. Note that the list is only notices issued by the sheriff’s offices. Other agencies, such as health departments and local governments, can issue their own notices.

Here is the written report that led to a temporary shutdown order of Club Onyx.

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