Tri-County leaders send Pritzker a detailed, phased proposal to reopen businesses

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EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Officials from across the Tri-County area came together to create a comprehensive plan to reopen businesses in phases and submitted it to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

East Peoria Mayor John Kahl said he 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.

The plan would phase in more openings beginning May 1. The group thanked Pritzker for his leadership and keeping people healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but stressed the “devastating financial impact to the local municipalities.”

During each phase of the proposed plan, local governments would continue to monitor the status of its impact in coordination with the local health departments and other local organizations.

The outline can be found below:

Phase 1

May 1

  • Nonessential business, including retailers, shopping centers, auto dealerships, distribution centers, nursery/garden shops, other lawn and garden centers, marinas, parks, lakes, golf courses, campgrounds, and other outdoor recreational areas, would reopen.
  • Nonessential travel would be minimized.
  • All social gatherings with more than 10 people should be avoided.
  • Salons, barbershops, spas, dog grooming facilities, and other personal care facilities may reopen but shall take appropriate mitigation measures, such as reconfiguring and/or restricting space to enable people to be located apart, to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained.
  • Employees shall be required to use face masks while in close proximity to clients and must clean and wipe all surfaces between clients.
  • Gyms/fitness studios and indoor recreational facilities may reopen. Mitigation measures, such as reconfiguring and/or restricting space to enable people to be located apart, shall be taken to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. Equipment must be cleaned and wiped between users.
  • Restaurants, bakeries, and bars may 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. In addition, patrons may enter the premises to purchase food or beverages for carry-out.
  • 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. In addition, patrons may enter the premises to purchase food or beverage for carry-out providing social distancing guidelines are maintained. On-premise liquor license holders for hotels may continue to sell beverages via room service, mini-bar, and carry-out.

May 15

  • Nonessential travel can resume. Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people. All vulnerable people should continue to shelter in place.
  • Restaurants, bakeries, and bars may reopen at up to 50% occupancy as determined by the plaque posted from the local Fire Marshall. Mitigation measures, such as reconfiguring and/or restricting space to enable people to be located apart, shall be taken to ensure that adequate social distancing guidelines are maintained. These establishments should take all necessary precautions and follow sanitation protocols as approved by the local health department. Food-preparers and servers shall be required to use face masks. Questions regarding occupancy are to be directed to the local Fire Marshall.
  • Riverboat casino and video gaming may resume operations utilizing at up to 50% stations, subject to approval by the Illinois Gaming Board. Mitigation measures, such as reconfiguring and/or restricting space to enable people to be located apart, shall be taken to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained.
  • Childcare facilities may reopen but shall take appropriate mitigation measures.
  • Places of worship may reopen but shall take appropriate mitigation measures.
  • Theatres, museums, and bowling alleys may reopen but shall take appropriate mitigation measures.
  • Athletic fields may reopen for practice. Bleacher sections must be removed (if applicable) or restricted from use. Dugouts must be restricted from use. Personal seating can be used but social distancing guidelines must be maintained.
  • Playgrounds, skateparks, and other outdoor recreation spaces may reopen. Social distancing guidelines must be maintained.
  • Youth activities may reopen. Social distancing guidelines must be maintained.
  • Elective surgeries in applicable municipalities can resume. All medical offices need to continue to follow guidance from IDPH.

Phase 2

June 1

  • Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 50 people. Vulnerable people should continue to shelter in place. Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals can resume under strict social distancing guidelines. Visitors to senior care facilities must wear face masks.
  • Restaurants, bakeries, and bars may reopen at up to 75% occupancy as determined by the plaque posted from the local Fire Marshall. Mitigation measures, such as reconfiguring and/or restricting space to enable people to be located apart, shall be taken to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. These establishments should take all necessary precautions and follow sanitation protocols as approved by the local health department. Food-preparers and servers shall be required to use face masks. Questions regarding occupancy are to be directed to the local Fire Marshall.
  • Riverboat casino and video gaming operations may resume at up to 75% capacity, subject to approval by the Illinois Gaming Board. Mitigation measures, such as reconfiguring and/or restricting space to enable people to be located apart, shall be taken to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained.
  • Athletic fields may reopen for tournaments. Bleacher sections must be removed (if applicable) or restricted from use. Dugouts must be restricted from use. Personal seating can be used but social distancing guidelines must be maintained. Concessions may be reopened but social distancing guidelines must be maintained in the food service area. Food-preparers and servers shall be required to use masks.
  • Public pools may reopen. Social distancing guidelines must be maintained in seating areas.
  • Small business gatherings and meetings can resume under social distancing guidelines.
  • Except to the extent, the Governor acting within his authority has directed public schools to remain closed, schools may reopen. Social distancing guidelines must be maintained.

June 15

  • Restaurants, bakeries, and bars may reopen at up to 100% occupancy as determined by the plaque posted from the local Fire Marshall. Mitigation measures shall be taken to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. Food-preparers and servers shall be required to use face masks.
  • Riverboat casino and video gaming operations may resume at up to 100% capacity, subject to approval by the Illinois Gaming Board. Mitigation measures, such as reconfiguring and/or restricting space to enable people to be located apart, shall be taken to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. These establishments should take all necessary precautions and follow sanitation protocols as approved by the local health department.
  • Athletic fields may reopen dugouts under limited social distancing guidelines.

Phase 3

July 1

  • Vulnerable people can resume public interaction but should practice social distancing.
  • Athletic fields may reopen bleacher sections under limited social distancing guidelines.
  • Large venues can operate under limited social distancing guidelines.
  • Large social gatherings, such as weddings and funerals, can resume under limited social distancing guidelines.
  • Business-related gatherings, such as trade shows, conferences, conventions, and workshops can resume under limited social distancing gatherings.
  • Entertainment related mass gatherings, such as concerts, festivals, carnivals, and shows, can resume under limited social distancing guidelines.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis is noticeably absent from the group that signed off on the proposal. In an email, he said there should be more discussion with local health departments and further examination of scientific metrics in the plan.

Ardis also said there will be a meeting Friday involving the state, local government, healthcare officials, economic developers and planners to move further with next steps.

Per the mayor:

First, thanks to Mayor Kahl for his efforts here. We all share the desire to get our economies going again.  I respect all of you not only as elected officials but as good people and I’m thankful you’re leading your communities. I just want you to understand why I’m not signing this letter.  First of all, your request will fail it’s first ask. 

There is absolutely no way the Governor is going to allow this on Friday (May 1).  We shouldn’t feel that’s okay because  “at least we tried.” We need to be realistic about how this is to be done.  Although the letter identifies dates for implementation and businesses in each phase of the rollout, there are no scientific metrics to how you will gauge success/failure. One of the critical components of a plan will have to include those metrics, and they should.

This is an issue with the Adams County model too. I’m not sure if you’ve had any discussions with our local Health  Department officials about this. I have and their input needs to be part of a plan.  I do believe that we, in central Illinois can put a good, thorough plan together and get our economies started ahead of May 31. 

I don’t think your letter necessarily hurts anything, but you won’t have anything to hang your hat on because the Governor already knows that everyone south of I-80 wants this to happen.

To be clear, I appreciate these efforts and your constituents do too. And it’s not about credit.  I applaud Mayor Kahl and everyone here. We all want to succeed. And I think we can with more thought. 

With that said, a meeting is being set up, hopefully, Friday with stakeholders from state and local government, health care, economic development and planners to scope this down quickly. After the initial meeting, I will give you feedback and look for your help and thoughts about a solid, thorough, and well thought out plan which should give us a better chance for success.

Thanks again for taking time to understand my position.  We’re all in this together and we all need to work together for a solution.  We can do it.

Be safe

Mayor Ardis

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