Four Gurnee-area restaurants won't be fined for defying indoor dining ban

Lake County Health officials visited and issued warnings this month to the four Gurnee-area restaurants that defied the state indoor dining ban. But now that Lake County has moved to Tier 1 restrictions, officials said the restaurants won't be fined.

On Jan. 7, the owners of Kaiser's Pizza and Pub, Timothy O'Toole's Pub and Restaurant and Stevens' of Gurnee, and The Shanty of Wadsworth posted on their respective social media accounts that they were going to open on Jan. 15 at 25% capacity.

Within a few days of the restaurants opening, two complaints were filed with the Lake County Health Department. Soon after, health officials visited the restaurants.

"We found them in violation on Jan. 21 and issued a warning that told them they would be rechecked for compliance in seven days," said Lawrence J. Mackey, the department's director of environmental health.

Because the second visit will fall after the ban was lifted, the restaurants won't be fined for allowing indoor dining earlier.

"We can only cite people for violations we observe," Mackey said. "We can only assess if they are in compliance with the current restrictions."

The restaurants could still be fined if they are in violation of other Tier 1 restrictions, Mackey said.

Tier 1 rules include closing at 11 p.m. and reopening no earlier than 6 a.m. There is also a limit of two-hour reservations and four people per party. Tables must be 6 feet apart with no ordering or seating at the bar counter.

The minimum fine would be $115 plus $50 in court costs, and the maximum would be $1,000, Mackey said.

A representative from Timothy O'Toole's declined to comment. Representatives from Kaiser's, Stevens' and The Shanty did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

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