Gov. JB Pritzker issued new mitigation instructions for Kane, DuPage, Will and Kankakee counties after a spike in coronavirus infection rates no indoor seating or service allowed starting today.
But Luau Coffee in Campton Hills – which has defied guidelines for wearing masks and social distancing all along – continued in its defiance. When a reporter came to the restaurant, about a dozen customers were seated at tables inside, no one wearing a mask. Three employees behind the counter were also not wearing masks.
One of the customers was Kane County Forest Preserve Director of Public Safety/Chief of Police Mike Gilloffo.
When asked if he was there to serve a notice of non-compliance, he replied, “No, I’m here for pie and coffee.”
A new sign on the window to the coffee shop states in part that, "The location in which you stand and read this sign is currently under attack for attempting to preserve those rights."
Campton Hills Police Chief Steven Millar said he refers all complaints to the Kane County Health Department, including two on Luau Coffee.
The problem is, Millar said, the governor’s order is not a law and police cannot enforce an order that is not a law.
“It falls on the health department,” Millar said. “We’ve had many discussions with other chiefs of police. It’s a fine line. It’s a directive from the governor, but it’s not a law. The health department has the authority to take away their license. … The health department can shut them down, can issue fines. … If they told us they were going over there to issue a citation, we would escort them.”
In the same strip mall, Joseph's Pizza Cucina had no customers inside – and was offering only pick up and delivery – as the restaurant was following the governor’s guidelines.
“We follow the rules,” said manager Maira Remigio, who was wearing a mask. “We try to keep everybody safe.”
In Geneva, Police Cmdr. Brian Maduzia said police had not received complaints and had no need to serve anyone with a non-compliance notice.
Maduzia said an officer was there on a report that there were people inside EvenFlow Music & Spirits after a post stated it would be open – but later the business posted an update on social media that they would not be opening after all.
“All we are going to do for the weekend is advise and seek voluntary compliance and sort things out on Monday,” Maduzia said.
Police would need orders and guidance from the Kane County Health Department on what to do, Maduzia said.
“We have nothing documented, so there’s nothing to follow up, yet,” Maduzia said.
Apple Villa in Batavia, which had posted on social media that it would defy the governor’s order, received a formal notice from police warning that it was in non-compliance.
Later in the morning, the restaurant had about 10 customers at various tables and booths set far apart.
“Please be advised that your business, service, facility or organization is currently operating in a manner that is not in compliance with one or more of these requirements,” the notice from Batavia reads. “For the safety of your patrons, your staff and your community, it is imperative that you take the necessary steps to address non-compliance with state guidelines immediately, or as soon as is reasonably practicable.”
The notice also warns that if the city receives additional reports of non-compliance, further action may be taken, including an order to disperse patrons and employees, or charges of a Class A misdemeanor.
The owner of Apple Villa declined to comment.
Deputy Police Chief Shawn Mazza said police also delivered a similar notice to Briana's Pancake House. Mazza said both notices were delivered as follow-ups to complaints from the public that they were open and serving customers inside.
"We are just trying to educate people and looking for compliance from these businesses," Mazza said. "Some are not aware of what's going on and it's helpful to them and others. They want to stay open. It's their livelihood. We can empathize with their situation. It's a rough year for the economy and businesses in general."
If police are called back to the same businesses, Mazza said they would deliver a cease and desist notice, and would let the Health Department know.
"We're the intermediary. Everybody calls the police for these issues," Mazza said.
In an email response to a question of what happens next in terms of enforcement, Kane County Health Department spokeswoman Susan Stack stated she would try to get an answer soon.
However, in a recent news release, Health Department Executive Director Barbara Jeffers urged the public to support businesses affected by the resurgence mitigation rules by patronizing them with dining outside, delivery, drive-thru or take-out.
"We understand the challenges the mitigation rules are putting on our food and beverage sector," Jeffers stated in the release. "These restrictions are in place to help reduce the spread of the virus."