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Coronavirus

Local officials, businesses react to COVID-19 mitigations that ban indoor dining, bar service

Restrictions go into effect on Friday

Paul and Deb Rosso of St. Charles chat with co-owner Esther Roby (right) at All Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva on June 26, the first day of the state's phase 4 or reopening that includes indoor dining.
Paul and Deb Rosso of St. Charles chat with co-owner Esther Roby (right) at All Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva on June 26, the first day of the state's phase 4 or reopening that includes indoor dining.

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KANE COUNTY – Indoor dining and bar service will be prohibited in Kane and DuPage counties beginning Friday, after Gov. JB Pritzker announced more restrictions Tuesday to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Kane County, which along with DuPage County, make up Region 8. The region's positivity rate has seen a 7-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days, which exceeds the threshold set for establishing mitigation measures under the state's Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan.

St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina said at Monday night's City Council meeting that the city would abide by the state's order if additional restrictions were placed on the region.

"We will enforce that," he said. "We have taken the position that we will follow the governor's orders."

Margaret Perreault, president and CEO of Batavia Chamber of Commerce, said in an email that the Chamber is "proud" of how local businesses have operated during the pandemic.

"Their actions in March, when first restricted, prove that our businesses are resilient," she stated. "We are ready to help them pivot once again. The Batavia Chamber of Commerce is here to support all businesses with increased visibility and will diligently work to assist them on arduous journey caused by the pandemic."

Elburn Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Ken Baumruck said the new restrictions are "disappointing" and described the situation as "not good."

"The previous shutdown was tough [for local businesses], and it hurt them economically. Many didn't know if they could survive," he said. "The weather is getting colder and I'm not sure how many businesses will participate [in outdoor dining]. It's a disappointing turn of events, but we have to rely on the science. But this will be brutal for some."

Kane County Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, said he worried about restaurant owners needing to catch a break.

“But just like everyone else, we hope and pray that this thing winds down here shortly instead of winding up,” Frasz said.

“We need to keep society open and I do agree we should wear masks, not be in large groups at home or at events and wash our hands,” Frasz said. “I really do believe that businesses can stay open if people are careful. I see big box stores observing social distancing and mask-wearing and everything else. I really question the value of shutting down versus the cost both economically and emotionally to people.”

Frasz said he knows some restaurant owners who “can’t catch a break.”

“And to give them another kick in the gut – it’s not needed right now. They’ve done a wonderful job trying to accommodate this thing. They’re even operating at 30% to stay alive,” Frasz said.

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns said, “We are disappointed in the trajectory of the infection rate and, of course, mourn each life lost to COVID-19."

"From a municipal perspective, we will work in tandem with our residents, businesses and guests toward reversing this spike by immediately and unambiguously committing to the mitigation protocols now established,” Burns said.

In a news release, State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, was critical of the decision to place the entire region under further restrictions based solely on the state’s metrics.

“The Pritzker Administration is yet again making decisions on a one-size-fits-all basis, which hurts businesses and residents in an entire region without consideration of where the higher incidence of COVID-19 cases are found, and what populations are being affected," he stated in the news release. "It could be that the higher numbers reflect a surge in cases in a localized hot spot. At the beginning of this pandemic, we understood the need to stay at home and help flatten the curve to protect the public and help our front-line health workers. Seven months in, our employers and residents have been working very hard to learn about the protocols and do what is necessary to conduct business safely, responsibly and reasonably."

Kane County Health Department Director Barbara Jeffers also responded to the Governor’s orders.

“We were aware of the possibility that we would tip the metric and find ourselves in this position,” Jeffers stated in a news release. “Kane County will now be required to become more restrictive and we will work with the Governor’s Office and IDPH to implement those measures. We know we have a high positivity rate that currently exceeds 100/100,000 persons. If we work together, we can regain control of our community to get the restrictions lifted. I know the challenges of mitigation but it’s a small price to pay to wear a mask, keep your social distance, limit group sizes, wash your hands so that our community is healthy, our children return to school and our economy flourishes.”

Additional grants for businesses affected by the mitigation efforts can be found under the Business Interruption Grant at DCEO.Illinois.gov, the release stated.

According to the news release, the health department is reaching out to leaders in the public and private sector to urge a united front to reverse this surge before winter and colder weather drives people indoors.

This week, the health department will release an updated toolkit on KaneHealth.com to help businesses protect their employees and customers.

The department continues to encourage residents to contact them with concerns about businesses not following the guidelines by calling 630-208-3801 or CovidConcerns@co.kane.il.us.

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