GOP leaders ask Pritzker to justify his bar, restaurant plan
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois Senate Republicans urged Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday to release the specific data he is using to impose restrictions on indoor dining and bar service in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady called for a public hearing for Pritzker would lay out the numbers he says show that the autumn surge in COVID-19 is fueled by close contact among restaurant and bar patrons.
It came a day after he imposed the restrictions on Chicago, known as Region 11, the largest of 11 COVID-19 monitoring sections of the state. It prompted the same ire from restaurateurs in other regions already under the restrictions and skepticism from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat.
'úPeople have a right to know, the Legislature needs to get involved in this,'Ě Brady said during a video conference with reporters. 'úIt's time to stop just unilateral actions on the part of the governor, and (with) the General Assembly to jointly make decisions that are good for the people.'Ě
K.C. Gulbro, the owner and chef of FoxFire Restaurant in Geneva, said he would lose 80% of his business if forced to comply. He won a temporary restraining order this week against the indoor-dining ban in Kane County court.
'úThere's not enough data out there that shows that restaurants and bars are the main culprits here,'Ě Gulbro said. 'úWith not being able to get the concrete data from the governor, we feel like we're safe enough to be open. We take all the precautions we follow the CDC (federal health) guidelines.'Ě
On Wednesday the same restrictions were imposed on Region 9, made up of McHenry County and part of Lake County northwest of Chicago, marking the eighth region to face 'úresurgence mitigations'Ě which also include limiting gatherings to 25 people or 25% of a room's capacity.
Pritzker has maintained that in follow-up contacts with people who contract the illness, invariably they were at a restaurant or bar just before testing positive. The state had 6,110 new cases Wednesday, with 51 additional deaths, for a total of 389,095 cases, and 9,619 fatalities.
Brady acknowledged that bars should perhaps face tighter restrictions than restaurants because of the difference in the way people socialize there, but Republican Sen. Donald DeWitte of St. Charles suggested that bars that are part of restaurants be closed and alcohol served to diners at tables.
Senate President Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, made no promise of convening a hearing.
'úPresident Harmon looks forward to continuing to work with Leader Brady toward the shared goal of protecting the health and safety of the people of Illinois,'Ě Harmon spokesman John Patterson said.
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