Gov. Threatens To Send Cops After Reopening Businesses, Sheriff Tells Him No
Chicago, IL – Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has threatened to deploy law enforcement against business owners who reopen before he grants them permission, defying his pandemic lockdown orders.
“Businesses and individual professionals who are licensed by state agencies will be held accountable for breaching public health orders,” Pritzker said during a press conference on Wednesday, according to Illinois Policy. “Local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police can and will take action.”
The governor noted that “counties that try to reopen in defiance may not be reimbursed by FEMA for damages they cause because they ignored the law.”
“There is no consequence the state could impose that is greater than the harm you will do to your own communities,” Pritzker warned.
The governor has prohibited all areas of the state from reopening prior to May 30, Illinois Policy reported.
Restaurants are banned from reopening for dine-in service until at least the end of June.
Although COVID-19 cases and deaths have increased in some areas, many counties have experienced the opposite effect and insist they have met benchmarks for reopening.
"Our numbers are just far better than they are up north and we feel like we are being punished because we're all in this together," Adams County Board Chairman Kent Snider told WLS.
The Madison County Board of Health voted Wednesday by an overwhelming majority to allow churches, bars, restaurants, gyms and salons to begin phased reopening at reduced capacity, KTVI reported.
In addition to recommendations regarding social distancing, wearing masks, and regularly disinfecting common areas, restaurants, bars and gyms may only operate at 25 percent capacity.
Churches are required to operate at or below 50 percent capacity.
Several law enforcement leaders have openly refused to enforce Pritzker’s order to crack down on businesses, WLS reported.
“The Governor’s Executive Order is not a law,” Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird explained.
Sheriff Baird said that his department will not order businesses to shut down, nor will they break up wedding celebrations or other events.
Massac County Sheriff Chad Kaylor said he has spent hours studying the executive order and the coronavirus pandemic.
“Throughout history, the Sheriff has been known as the keeper of your Constitutional Rights,” Sheriff Kaylor said in a Facebook post on Monday. “When I took the office of the Sheriff, I took an oath to continue that tradition.”
Enforcing Pritzker’s order would violate that oath, he said.
“It became clear to me that the Governor’s Executive Order was not enforceable by law enforcement. The order was not drafted by a legislative body; therefore, it is not a law. The order was not signed by a judge,” the sheriff explained.
Sheriff Kaylor said he has “tried to balance public health with the Constitution of the United States.”
“Ultimately, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the law of the land,” he wrote. “Each person is free to speak and have your own opinion. You are free to assemble, and you are free to worship.”
Sheriff Kaylor said that his office will not enforce Pritzker’s executive order.
“We cannot legally enforce the order as it stands,” he added. “Law Enforcement must have a state statute to enforce any order or a Judges signature on an order to enforce it.”
Sheriff Kaylor urged citizens to use “common sense and respect” as they navigate life in the midst of the pandemic.
“The Coronavirus is real,” he said, while urging residents to exercise social distancing practices and to wash their hands frequently.
“If you choose to follow the Governor’s Executive Order and health guidelines, I ask that you respect the decision of those that do not,” Sheriff Kaylor added. “If you choose not to follow the Governor’s Executive Order and health guidelines, I ask that you respect the decision of those that do.”
Pritzker denounced local officials who plan to reopen in violation of his mandates.
"Here's what I want to say to those leaders: You weren't elected to do what's easy. You were elected to do what's right," the governor declared, according to WLS.
"One hundred and ninety-two Illinoisans lost their lives to this virus in the past 24 hours. One hundred and ninety-two. How is that not real to you?" Pritzker said during his press conference on Wednesday. "More people will get sick and admitted to the hospital and die if we do not stay the course and follow the guidance the experts have provided."
Frankfort business owner Nancy Cartolano said that the governor is failing to understand that not all Illinois communities are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic in the same way.
“Come walk in our communities, governor,” Cartolano said, according to WLS. “We would love your you to come down and see our small shops and see how we could make this work…We're going to lose our community that we've all worked so hard to build up.”
As of Thursday, 84,698 Illinois residents had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 3,792 have died, according to Bing’s COVID-19 Tracker.