Retail group says patchwork of state, local rules causing confusion

(The Center Square) – The state’s retail association wants municipalities across the state to get on the same page when it comes to enforcing social distancing policies and the statewide stay-at-home order.

Some cities and towns have enacted their own ordinances following Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order to allow local police to enforce social distancing in retail stores deemed essential and open to the public.

In Normal, the mayor issued an order that allows police to enforce the state’s stay-at-home order.

In Springfield, Mayor Jim Langfelder’s executive order went a further. It requires essential businesses open to the public to have certain postings about social distancing, among other things, or face daily fines.

Illinois Retail Merchants Association Vice President Alec Laird told Springfield officials that having patchwork of rules is making a difficult situation more difficult.

“If municipalities do their own thing, then we have a retailer that has 400 different locations in Illinois and 40 different municipalities are doing 40 different things, it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on,” Laird said.

Laird said the lack of uniformity across the state puts businesses in a tough spot, especially if there are added economic sanctions.

“So now we have a municipality that has different written policies, do those retailers in that municipality have to follow the state and what the state doctor is saying or do we follow the municipality under an executive order that we could get fined for,” Lair said.

He also warned against having stores be the enforcers.

“We’re not going to put our retail workers at risk and ask them to do more than what they’re doing for consumers,” Laird said.

In Springfield, officials said their goal is to educate businesses. Imposing a $500 fine per day would be a last resort for defiant business owners.

The governor’s stay-at-home order lasts through April 30. It’s unclear if he’ll extend it, amend it, or let it expire.

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