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Day after judge declares his executive orders void, Gov. J.B. Pritzker urges restaurants, bars to keep following safety guidelines
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Day after judge declares his executive orders void, Gov. J.B. Pritzker urges restaurants, bars to keep following safety guidelines

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at an event in Decatur on June 9. 

A day after a southern Illinois judge ruled that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus are void, the Democratic governor and the state’s top health official are urging restaurants and bars and their customers to continue following safety guidelines heading into the Fourth of July weekend.

“The virus is not taking the holiday weekend off, and neither can we. Letting our guard down now would fly in the face of the progress we’ve made over many months,” Pritzker said in a statement Friday. “We have seen that mitigation measures have worked in our state and we’ve seen too many other states rapidly lose ground in the fight against the virus.”

Those measures include wearing masks in public, maintaining proper social distancing and abiding by capacity limits in restaurants, bars and other businesses.

Under phase four of Pritzker’s reopening plan, which went into effect June 26, restaurants and bars statewide are limited to 25% of normal capacity in standing areas. Capacity in seating areas is based on how many tables can be spaced 6 feet apart.

Local governments are allowed to enact stricter rules. In Chicago, for example, patrons must be seated, and indoor capacity is limited to 25% or 50 people, whichever is fewer.

State officials noted that there have been numerous outbreaks in other states among younger adults. Some outbreaks have been tied to bars.

“Bars, by design, are social settings where people gather closely together for extended periods of time,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ezike Ngozi said in a statement. “Additionally, people often need to raise their voices or shout to be heard, which means droplets from seemingly well but infected individuals could spread further than the recommended 6 feet of distancing.

“All of these factors increase the risk of transmission and can lead to more cases and outbreaks.”

Local liquor control commissioners — generally mayors and village presidents — have the authority to issue cease-and-desist warnings and orders, temporarily suspending an establishment’s liquor license and close its doors for up to seven days, if a business doesn’t comply with the rules, according to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

The Illinois State Police also is working with local authorities on enforcement measures, including warnings, fines and potential suspension or revocation of licenses.

Clay County Circuit Judge Michael McHaney ruled Thursday that Pritzker exceeded his authority by issuing successive 30-day disaster proclamations related to COVID-19 and restricting the actions of residents and businesses by executive order.

The governor’s office says the rules under phase four of Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan remain in effect because the court’s decision, which came in a lawsuit brought by Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey of Xenia, is not final and the court did not issue an injunction blocking the restrictions. Other courts have upheld the governor’s orders, including on Thursday in a federal lawsuit brought by the Illinois Republican Party.


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