Some Illinois restaurants plan to defy Pritzker’s COVID-19 restrictions

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NEW LENOX, Ill. — Several restaurants in the suburbs are planning to defy the governor’s orders to shut down indoor dining, to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

The order is scheduled to go into effect Friday, Oct. 23.

For some the defiance to the order is political, but for others it’s a matter of survival.

Gov. JB Pritzker issued the order that covers Kane, Will, DuPage and Kankakee counties earlier this week, after positivity rates hit about the 8% mark over the rolling seven-day average.

Pritzker said he wants to make it clear that he’s not trying to punish bars and restaurants, just trying to control the virus.

“We’re literally talking about piles of these studies that show that bars and restaurants are spreading locations,” Pritzker said.

For years, Gina’s Tear Drop Cafe in New Lenox has been a place to not only get a good meal, but a place that also makes customers feel good.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, the cafe’s owners said they would continue taking all COVID precautions, but will defy the governor’s COVID enhanced mitigations orders and keep its dining room open. The post says it was an act of survival, and their 30 employees depend on them.

The mayor of New Lenox understands the studies and agrees with their findings, but isn’t sure how shutting down indoor dining in his town will have a huge impact on cases.

“The logic just doesn’t seem to be there when you can just go 10 minutes somewhere else and sit inside, and we are concerned deeply about our business owners,” Mayor Tim Baldermann said.

Baldermann says he knows of a number of businesses, not only in New Lenox but around the areas impacted by the governor’s order, that don’t plan on shutting down indoor dining simply because they can’t afford to.

“What we’re saying to them is that we can’t tell you that’s OK. However, if you’re going to do it, please follow every safety guideline and protocol possible if that’s the decision you’re going to make. The governor has said he would look at enforcement measures, and we’ll leave that up to the governor,” Baldermann said.

Pritzker does have some tools at his disposal to try to enforce his order, one being licenses when it comes to restaurants and bars. It is unclear though if he plans to use them.

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