Libertyville mayor: We won't enforce state ban on indoor dining
Libertyville became the most recent community to say it won't enforce the state ban on indoor dining in Lake and McHenry counties.
"We're not doing any enforcement," Mayor Terry Weppler said Wednesday evening.
"At this point in time, I'm doing all I can to help our restaurants," Weppler said. "People can go if they want to go. That's their choice. I'm not saying they should."
Libertyville is the latest to announce its intentions in an expected pushback to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's announcement Wednesday morning imposing "resurgence mitigations" to control the spread of coronavirus.
The measures, to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, include no indoor dining or service at bars or restaurants.
Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn in a State of the Village message Tuesday urged Pritzker to lift the ban and said officials or police won't enforce it in his village. Similar restrictions were imposed on businesses in DuPage and Kane counties last week.
Weppler said he met with restaurateurs via conference call, consulted with village trustees and spoke with area legislators before posting on Facebook that the village would not take action against restaurants that choose to remain open.
"I know the COVID virus is dangerous and I am as concerned as many of you that we protect people's health," Weppler wrote. "However, there have been no issues of Libertyville restaurants causing spreading of COVID."
He said there have been a "couple instances" in which a restaurant worker has tested positive for the coronavirus. But in each case, he said, the restaurant closed for cleaning and took precautions to protect customers.
Weppler said one state legislator told him the Lake County Health Department said it had not seen a connection between current restaurant rules and an increase in COVID-19 cases. Weppler said he planned to check with health officials Thursday to determine what, if any, connection there may be.
"I know that many people do not feel comfortable going into restaurants and doing indoor dining and I respect that position," he wrote on Facebook.
"However, I believe the restaurants are being made scapegoats on this issue and do not want to stand by and see us lose our local businesses."
Weppler said he is working with the Lake County Municipal League, which has about 40 member communities, about the possibility of coordinating a stance.
Restaurants are a key revenue source for Libertyville and a draw to its downtown.
Weppler described the state's action as "self-serving" as customers are allowed into restaurants with gambling machines because the state gets a cut of the proceeds.