East Peoria mayor moves forward with phased reopening plan

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EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The East Peoria mayor said he is allowing businesses within the city to reopen in phases, against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s extended stay-at-home order regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes after officials from across the Tri-County area came together earlier this week to create a comprehensive plan to reopen businesses in phases and submitted it to Pritzker. Friday, mayor John Kahl said he has talked to the governor, but not about his response to the plan yet.

Kahl sent the plan to Pritzker Wednesday. It includes signatures from 20 other elected officials in the area, as well as Fulton County, including those of Dunlap, Canton, Pekin, Bartonville, Mackinaw, Chillicothe, Morton, Tremont and more. But Friday, he said he was following through with the proposal, whether other municipalities decided to or not.

“Citizens and members of our business community, whom we represent, and who are counting on us to provide the leadership, trust, and confidence necessary to get East Peoria moving forward again,” Kahl said in a press conference Friday. “The East Peoria City Council stands united in its support of the Tri-County phased reopening plan presented to Gov. Pritzker on April 29.”

The plan phases in more openings beginning May 1. This includes nonessential businesses reopening within city limits, including retailers, shopping centers, salons, barbershops, gyms/fitness studios, parks, campgrounds, auto dealerships, and more. Social distancing guidelines would still be in place.

Restaurants, bakeries, and bars can continue to prepare and serve food providing that the food is for off-premise consumption and served through means such as in-house-delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through service, and curbside pick-up. License holders with the authority to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption may continue to sell alcoholic liquor for off-premises consumption provided that the alcoholic liquor is in its unopened, original packaging through means of in-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through service, curbside pick-up, and home delivery.

The individuals or businesses that are licensed by the state must consult with the respective licensing authority and, if they choose, their private legal counsel concerning the consequences of taking any action inconsistent with the governor’s latest order, Kahl said.

Kahlon Friday pointed out that it was not mandatory for businesses to reopen, rather give them the option to do so. He said he would continue to monitor new data from state and health officials moving forward.

“People need to be responsible to themselves,” Kahl said.

While East Peoria is moving forward with reopening. The Tazewell County Health Department said it highly recommends the public to continue following “good public health practice” as outlined in Pritzker’s executive order.

Per the TCHD:

The mission of the Tazewell County Health Department (TCHD) is to promote and protect the public’s health and well-being”. TCHD highly recommends the public to continue to follow good public health practice as outlined in the Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order.

There are many challenges and unknowns with the COVID-19 pandemic. TCHD urges the public to continue to use precautions such as proper hand hygiene, social distancing (at least 6 feet) and wearing a face covering.

TCHD, and other local health departments, follow the guidance directed by the Illinois Department of Public Health to protect our communities against infectious disease. Historically, TCHD has worked to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and continues to do so during this time.

TCHD will continue to work with our community partners and surrounding local health departments to protect the health and well-being of all. Please check our website at www.tazewellhealth.org for further information about our services or our response to COVID-19.

In the proposal to the governor, the group thanked him for his leadership and keeping people healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but stressed the “devastating financial impact to the local municipalities.”

Kahl said city leaders and police officers would not take any enforcement action regarding the phased reopenings that are against the governor’s order. Woodford County state’s attorney Greg Minger previously said he would not prosecute those that go against the order at a county-level as well.

To read more about the phased reopening proposal in its entirety, click here.

Watch the full press conference below.

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