EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — East Peoria’s mayor John Kahl is addressing his Thursday night Facebook post where he announced the city will not enforce Governor J.B. Pritzker’s upcoming indoor mask mandate.
Pritzker announced, Thursday morning, beginning Monday all Illinoisans two years old and older will be required to wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status. He cited the state’s increasing COVID-19 cases as well as the rapidly spreading Delta variant as reasons for the order.
However, hours after that announcement, Kahl took to his Facebook page and wrote the city will not be enforcing the mandate but rather will allow residents to, “decide the best course of action for their health and their livelihoods.”
It’s a similar decision the city made in May 2020.
“We’ve been very consistent in our position and that’s the ability of people and members of our business community to make their own decisions,” Kahl said. “At the end of the day, I think people are just tired. We feel like we have an obligation to our residents to ensure that they have individual freedoms.”
He said the city council, along with himself, feel confident that residents should have a say in how they choose to protect themselves. He said he believes these decisions should be made at the local level.
“The virus is real, you know protect yourself as you see fit and be respectful of others and let them make their own decisions about their own health,” Kahl said. “Who best to decide about your own health and the health of your family than yourself?”
Kahl said he’s not too concerned about potential repercussions, and many in the city seemed to agree with this decision.
“The mayor made the right choice,” Kent C, an East Peoria resident said. ” Awesome work.”
“I do see, like, why the governor is doing it to get rid of the pandemic,” Megan McCabe, an East Peoria resident, said. “I get the point, but I also do agree with letting people choose.”
“I feel like everybody is grown, so it should be their own choice and if they’re really scared of being sick they should go ahead and wear their mask,” Isaiah Chapman, an East Peoria resident, said.
But not everyone agreed.
When WMBD posted Kahl’s announcement on Facebook Thursday night, there were many people writing it was a bad decision.
One person wrote, “He has 0 respect for our healthcare workers. I am so ashamed he is our mayor.”
Another person wrote, “Well, I won’t be going to EP until the pandemic is over.”
Someone else wrote, “Anyone who catches it should be denied a hospital bed. Stick with your choice.”
Kahl said he expected a variety of reactions, but said he stands by this decision.
“I understood going into this that not everyone’s going to agree with you, but in this business, you have to have broad shoulders and once you make a decision you have to stick with it,” Kahl said.