While some businesses are looking forward to serving more customers as COVID-19 mitigations are relaxed in their regions of Illinois, others have stopped following the governor’s rules.
The state’s eleven regions the governor laid out in his reopening plan are in four different classes of COVID-19 mitigations. One Illinois state lawmaker has three COVID-19 regions in his district and they each have different restrictions.
In Springfield, business owner Craig Rhodes was pleasantly surprised when Region 3 leapfrogged from Phase 4 Tier 3 to just Phase 4. That allowed restaurants to go from not allowing indoor dining to having 50 percent capacity. It also allowed Rhodes to instantly open his King Pin Lanes bowling alley with 50 percent capacity.
“The first thing we did was get on Facebook and put out a post and that brought people in immediately,” Rhodes told WMAY.
Just south of Springfield, state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, said his district spans over three of the governor’s regions and they each have different mitigation put on them by the governor.
Wilhour called the situation a “disaster.”
“People don’t know what’s going on,” Wilhour said.
As of Tuesday afternoon per the governor’s plan, one region in Wilhour’s district, Region 4, indoor dining is prohibited. Another, Region 6, there can be 25 percent capacity. And another, Region 5, can have 50 percent capacity.
“But I’ll be honest with you, the folks in my district by and large, they stopped listening to the governor months ago,” Wilhour said. “He’s moved the goalposts so many times. It’s so confusing. He has no credibility.”
“They’ve been doing it safely and responsibly and I think that ultimately we’re going to be in a better situation because of that,” Wilhour said of businesses open in defiance of indoor prohibition. “We’ve had less restaurants shutdown and close their doors and things of that nature. Where it really hits us hard is with our schools.”
While schools aren’t affected by the tiered mitigation structure from the governor, Wilhour said it’s the sports where student-athletes still don’t have certainty.
“Every state around us is doing it, our kids are going to those states,” Wilhour said. “They’re playing basketball on the black market.”
The Illinois High School Association said in Tier 2 regions, low-risk sports like badminton, swimming, cheerleading, bowling and gymnastics can practice. High-risk sports such as basketball can train, but no physical contact is allowed. In Tier 1 mitigation, high-risk sports can begin scrimmages, but when competitive play will return is still unknown.
“This is certainly positive news,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement Friday, “but we still have a long way to go until we get all of our student-athletes back to being active. High school student-athletes are hurting from a mental, physical, and emotional standpoint, so we hope this is the first step toward getting that back to some normalcy.”
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