NEW LENOX, Ill. (CBS) — Starting Friday, DuPage, Kane, Will, and Kankakee counties are ordered by Gov. JB Pritzker to stop all indoor service at bars and restaurants.
They will be joining the northwest and southern regions of Illinois, which are already facing restrictions, as part of the state’s efforts to slow the rising COVID-19 positivity rate.
But as CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported Thursday evening, not every bar and restaurant intends to listen.
Restaurants like JBD White Horse Inn in New Lenox saw a steady flow of people walking in on Thursday, with masks on. Many of them are regulars, some of them supporters – following the restaurant’s announcement that they will defy Gov. JB Pritzker’s coronavirus mitigation order.
And they’re not alone.
Within the walls of JBD White Horse Inn, there was an anxious – and perhaps even an excited – buzz on Thursday.
“We’re a little nervous too,” said Elle Rizza of the White Horse Inn, “because we just don’t know what the feedback is.”
On Friday, they’re going rogue. But they’re not going to be doing anything different than they were on Thursday.
But the rules will change on Friday. Serving people indoors will be going against the governor’s orders.
And New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann isn’t going to stop them.
“It’s the governor’s mandate. It’s not the law,” Baldermann said. “So we aren’t enforcing it.”
At least four restaurants in New Lenox, within Will County, with many more across other Illinois counties taking to social media to take their stand. Restaurants in Frankfort, Roselle, and Glendale Heights are also defying the orders.
At Ki’s Steak and Seafood in Glendale Heights, they’re likening Gov. Pritzker to a dictator.
The Governor’s office cited rising COVID-19 rates in certain ZIP codes as the reason behind the decision.
This week, the Governor’s office released the studies they cited in their decision, which show higher case numbers for those who visit bars and restaurants.
But that is not where Mayor Baldermann has an issue.
“You can drive 10 minutes away and sit down in a restaurant in southern Cook County, where that community may have a higher level of infection rate than we have here,” he said.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” Rizza said.
She said there is a lot of pressure not to mess things up, and JBD White Horse Inn is still enforcing masks and cleaning.
“We’re not being ignorant about it,” she said. “It’s not a hoax. It’s not fake. It’s a virus. It’s out there. We know that.”
But for her, this is still a matter of survival.
“We won’t survive if we have to close our doors down again. It’s just not going to happen, and it’s happened numerous times,” Rizza said. “So we’re going to stay open.”
Mayor Baldermann said New Lenox is keeping an eye on hospitalizations, and it will be a different story when it comes to enforcement if restaurants are failing to comply with masking and social distancing rules or throwing caution to the wind.
Also From CBS Chicago:
Gov. Pritzker said Tuesday that the added mitigations in Region 7 (Will and Kankakee counties) and Region 8 (DuPage and Kane counties) were triggered when both regions surpassed a 7-day average positivity rate of 8% for three days in a row. Region 7’s positivity rate stands at 8.6%, and Region 8’s rate is now at 9%.
Will and Kankakee counties previously had added restrictions in place for more than three weeks from late August through mid-September, but those limits were lifted as their infection rate dropped to as low as 5.2% in September. Region 7’s positivity rate started climbing again in October.
In addition to halting indoor service at bars and restaurants starting Friday, other new restrictions for DuPage, Kane, Will, and Kankakee counties include: requiring reservations for each party at restaurants and bars; shutting down party buses; requiring restaurants, bars, casinos, and other gaming facilities to close at 11 p.m.; and reducing capacity limits for public gatherings to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of overall room capacity.