Bars, restaurants offer indoor service despite restrictions

(The Center Square) – Business owners across the state continue to allow patrons inside despite a ban on indoor service at Illinois bars and restaurants.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker implemented the restrictions on Nov. 4 in response to rising coronavirus cases, but many mayors and law enforcement officials have said publicly they won’t enforce the measures.

Morton Mayor Jeff Kaufman said the town would not be enforcing the order. He stated at a village board meeting state law doesn’t grant local municipalities the authority to enforce the orders.

“Everyone in the community has the right to decide how they feel about going into a restaurant with indoor dining,” Kaufman said. “We are allowing the public to decide for themselves.”

Before the mitigations kicked in, East Peoria Mayor John Kahl said his city also would not enforce the restrictions.

“East Peoria will not be enforcing the restrictions that will be imposed by the Governor on our business community,” he wrote in a Facebook post, saying that not a single business had been found by the local health department to pose a risk to the public health.

Pritzker recently responded to McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally’s announcement that he would not enforce an indoor ban. Pritzker said he hopes the state’s attorney would “follow the law and do the right thing because people are getting sick.”

Pritzker’s comments came after Kenneally last week said he would not enforce the governor’s indoor dining ban and questioned the governor’s executive authority.

Despite the ban, several bars and restaurants in Carbondale, East Peoria and Galesburg, and many in smaller towns continue to open their doors for customers.

Some communities have decided to lay down the law. Five bars and restaurants in Bloomington are accused of violating the state’s ban on service and will appear at a Bloomington Liquor Commission hearing on Dec. 8. They could be fined or have their liquor licenses suspended or revoked.

The Illinois Restaurant Association has pointed out that restaurants are among the most highly regulated for sanitation, making them safer than other businesses Pritzker is allowing to remain open.

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