Judge Prohibits COVID-19 Enforcement Against Geneva Restaurant As Attorneys Look To Expand Case

ILLINOIS — Officials with state and local governments are not allowed by court order to enforce COVID-19 restrictions on a Geneva restaurant.

Attorneys for the FoxFire restaurant hope to expand the order to others.

Six of the eleven regions Gov. J.B. Pritzker laid out in his COVID-19 reopening plan have reverted back to stricter mitigations that prohibit groups sizes of 25 or fewer and prohibits indoor service for bars and restaurants.

On Friday, Geneva-based restaurant FoxFire sued to block Pritzker’s restrictions on indoor service at bars and restaurants.

Kane County Judge Kevin Busch issued a restraining order against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s orders prohibiting indoor bar and restaurant service.

FoxFire attorney Kevin Nelson told WGN it’s about following the Illinois Public Health Act.

“And in there every restaurant, every business is afforded due process, and if you’re going to shut them down you’ve got to get them advanced notice and ultimately the decider of that is a local judge,” Nelson said.

Attorney Greg Earl said the order is in place until there’s another hearing.

“Currently the order is only for FoxFire,” Earl said. “We’re hoping that maybe we can expand this a bit.”

They expect an appeal.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office didn’t indicate an appeal, but said Tuesday they’re committed to defending the measures.

“With 9,522 lives lost and half the counties in Illinois now at the Illinois Department of Public Health’s warning level, the need for these lifesaving measures could not be more evident,” said Attorney General Kwame Raoul Senior Press Secretary Annie Thompson. “As we have argued successfully in other Illinois courts that have considered these issues, the governor’s constitutional and statutory authority to protect Illinois residents during the pandemic is clear.”

“We are committed to continuing to defend the well-reasoned measures being implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 throughout Illinois, particularly as the numbers of positive cases and hospitalizations once again increase,” Thompson said.

Pritzker doesn’t seem to be wavering on his orders to mitigate COVID-19.

Geneva state Rep. Dan Ugaste said his reading of Monday’s outcome matches his understanding of the law, that the governor’s limited to only 30 days for such emergency declarations.

“Since March, the governor has been acting on his own, without input, without support, without contributions from the legislature,” Ugaste said.

Ugaste’s Democratic opponent, Martha Paschke couldn’t be reached for comment.

Ugaste agreed with Judge Busch who not only said the governor has exceeded his authority, but he’s being selective with what industries are impacted.

“Winners and losers seem to be picked under the current system,” Ugaste said. “We should be doing it so that it addresses it fairly and addresses the data which is something we have yet to receive.”

Other lawmakers have been demanding the Pritzker administration fully release contact tracing data to justify a blanket targeting of bars and restaurants in regions across the state.

The Illinois Restaurant Association suggested modifying capacity limits from zero to 25 percent in areas with higher COVID-19 positivity rates.

Pritzker said Tuesday he’s not looking at modifying his orders that prohibit indoor service for bars and restaurants.

The Center Square – Greg Bishop

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