Chicago To Be Held Back From Governor’s Phase 3 Plan As Courts Consider Executive Authority To Reshape State’s Economy

ILLINOIS — Phase 3 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan kicks in for the entire state on Friday, but not in Chicago.

This comes while a number of lawsuits challenge the governor’s stay-at-home orders.

The governor ordered restaurants and bars to close to dine-in service on March 16 amid to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He’s extended emergency executive orders several times. The governor’s plan calls for allowing restaurants and bars to serve customers at outdoor seating starting Friday. Other parts of the economy will be allowed to partially reopen. That includes salons, gyms and some additional retailers.

The governor’s Restore Illinois plan, which he released in early May, requires the four regions of the state to meet certain criteria before they can advance to the next phase. But the governor has also said local governments can implement more stringent requirements.

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said Chicago is being left behind as the mayor there continues the lockdown. He said businesses have suffered like no other time in history.

“And people are looking for goods and services, and they will cross the borders,” Ford said. “And in this case, you don’t have to leave the state. Now you just cross the street to a different town and make new relationships and that’s going to be a problem to Chicago residents and business owners in Chicago.”

Ford said lost economic activity will mean fewer tax dollars to cover the cost of government services in Chicago and instead will go to neighboring jurisdictions.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Thursday that the city will move into Phase 3 on June 3.

State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, said there are counties that have had zero COVID-19 cases should have been allowed to have businesses operating.

If there’s a flare-up in the fall and the governor reverts back to more restrictions, McClure said he doesn’t expect businesses to go along. He said the governor got voluntary compliance at first amid all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, but the governor kept moving the goalposts, even though hospitals never ran out of capacity.

“The governor’s objectives changed to now something else to where we have to have a total cure,” McClure said. “That I think really rubbed people the wrong way and so I think he’s going to have a real hard time trying to push that across at least to the nine counties that I represent.”

Some businesses are not included in Phase 3 of the governor’s plan, such as movie theaters. That’ll be limited in Phase 4 possibly in a month. Phase 5 is when concerts and conventions can come back, but that’s only if there’s a vaccine or widely available COVID-19 therapy.

McClure said because the legislature has failed to check the governor’s ability to reshape the economy unilaterally, it’s up to the courts if the governor can continue to unilaterally decide how the economy operates.

“The reason that there is 30 days that is limited for these executive orders is because you’ve only got 30 days to have this extraordinary amount of power to mandate certain things,” McClure told WMAY radio.

Ford said the governor can’t go it alone.

“He cannot unilaterally govern,” Ford said. “If he does that, it’s going to hurt the entire state because he does not know all parts of Illinois as much as he would like to know all parts of Illinois it’s very difficult. That’s why we have a legislature.”

He said if this continues into the summer, state lawmakers should be called back to deal with bringing the entire state’s economy back on line safely.

Other aspects of Phase 3 beginning Friday include increased outdoor activities with certain restrictions, such as boating with no more than 10 people, foursome golf outings and even day camps and youth sports practice with kids wearing masks.

The Center Square – Greg Bishop

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