Buffalo Grove won't extend vaccine requirement to Lake County businesses

Buffalo Grove village board members decided Monday not to extend proof-of-vaccination requirements already in place in Cook County portions of the village to the Lake County areas of town.

Lake County, unlike suburban Cook, is not mandating proof of vaccination for entry to bars, restaurants, fitness centers and some other public gathering spaces.

The village is enforcing the Cook County order on a complaint-driven basis, officials said.

"We do not regularly survey or monitor establishments to ensure that they're complying with another agency's order," Village Manager Dane Bragg said.

If someone complains by calling 911, the village's nonemergency line or village hall's general number, the complaint is routed to the health inspector, who then visits the business.

"Their goal is to achieve compliance," Bragg said. "So we work to educate the business owner on methods that they can employ to ensure individuals do comply to the greatest extent possible. If noncompliance is chronic or egregious, then the health inspector refers that complaint to the Cook County health department for enforcement."

Trustee Andrew Stein pointed out Monday that Lake County does not have home rule, meaning it must follow state orders and laws, and cannot issue an order similar to Cook County's.

"I wish there was an easy answer, but I'm not at this point willing to put all of Buffalo Grove at a disadvantage by requiring Lake County Buffalo Grove businesses to check vaccine cards for people that enter," he said.

While the county cannot issue such an order, individual municipalities with home rule can. Such was the case last week in Highland Park, which extended the Cook County requirement to Lake portions of the city.

But Buffalo Grove officials said it would not be fair to businesses in their community.

"It seems to me that this would put the onus and the cost on the businesses that were hurt the most by the pandemic and the ones that are continuing to struggle with staffing," Trustee Joanne Johnson said.

As for village operations during the current outbreak, Bragg said the village's goal is to maintain continuity in its operations.

An all-employee meeting took place Monday that focused on mitigation measures and "how important it is that, when someone calls 911, we have someone on the other end of that line to respond to that fire (or) EMS call or that police call or to plow the snow," he said.

The village has closed public lobbies, except at the police station, and is providing services at a walk-up window outside village hall.

"Our residents can still access the full range of services that we provide," Bragg said.

Andrew Stein
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