Local leaders ask Gov. J.B. Pritzker to open small businesses


(AP) — Five northern Illinois mayors have asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker for the authority to reopen businesses next month, urging local control over restrictions and “common sense modifications” to a statewide stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic.

The request comes as protests over the restrictions have taken place at state capitols, including a handful of people demonstrating Sunday in Springfield.

Pritzker said he’s continually evaluating a possible extension of the order, which expires April 30, as other states have done.

“The fact is that we have got to be very careful as we make decisions about change in the stay-at-home order to keep people safe,” he said during a Sunday media briefing. “I’m looking at all the ways we can open things up and keep people safe.”

The Winnebago County leaders — of communities ranging in population from roughly 1,300 to 23,000 people — said in a Friday letter to Pritzker that thousands of employees, including in the restaurant, fitness and salon industries are being unnecessarily harmed because they’re not considered essential workers, according to The Rockford Register Star. They said the need for financial aid has exceeded resources.

“Countless business owners and employees have been asking ‘If social distancing is working at big box stores, then why can’t the same social distancing measures be safely applied to small businesses?’” says the letter urging “common sense modifications” and regional control over restrictions.

The leaders are from Loves Park, Machesney Park, South Beloit, Cherry Valley and Durand.

However, the mayor of Rockford, the county’s largest city, disagreed with the effort, saying it’s not the time to reverse course.

“A plan to open all businesses on a single day — or to allow a hodgepodge system where each city makes its own rules — is not responsible when we know it will be right in the middle of our surge,” Mayor Tom McNamara said in a statement.

Thousands of people recently protested a social distancing order Wednesday outside of the Michigan state capitol earlier this week calling it an economic disaster. A smaller protest took place Saturday outside the Indiana governor’s mansion. A few people demonstrated in Springfield Sunday, according to WICS-TV.

On Sunday, Illinois public health officials announced 1,197 new COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths. Overall, there have been 30,357 cases with 1,290 deaths in the state. State health officials have also released details on cases linked to long-term care, showing at least 286 deaths in nursing homes.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.


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