It’s a lot easier for the state to close one place down, but if we did it all together it’d be a lot better…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Illinois business owners could now face a Class A misdemeanor charge if they reopen before the state lifts its shelter-in-place order, according to a new emergency rule Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed on Friday.
The rule would penalize owners of restaurants, bars, gyms, barbershops and other businesses for reopening with a fine of up to $2,500 or a maximum jail sentence of one year, according to the New York Times.
The emergency rule is necessary because it is an “additional enforcement tool for businesses that refuse to comply with the most critical aspects of the stay-at-home order,” Pritzker’s office claimed.
“Law enforcement has relied heavily on educating business owners about the order and always first discusses the regulations with business owners to urge compliance,” said Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokeswoman for the governor.
“Only businesses that pose a serious risk to public health and refuse to comply with health regulations would be issued a citation,” Abudayyeh said.
Ann Spillane, general counsel for Pritzker’s administration, downplayed the penalty.
The new enforcement mechanism is “very mild, like a traffic ticket,” she claimed.
“Nobody’s getting arrested or handcuffed,” she told the Associated Press. “But they are getting a citation where they would have to go to court.”
Pritzker’s prolonged restrictions are some of the strictest in the nation.
Under his reopening plan, Illinois churches will not be allowed to hold services and businesses will not be allowed to accommodate more than 50 people until a vaccine is developed.
Illinois businesses have already begun to flout the restrictions, arguing that they are unsustainable.
Robert Newman, the owner of a restaurant in Herrin, Illinois, reopened his dining room earlier this month in spite of Pritzker’s order, arguing that his 20-seat restaurant is safer than a crowded store like Walmart, which is still allowed to operate.
“If we can get all the businesses to step out in faith, you know, and open up, it’d be a lot easier,” Newman told KFVS-12, a local CBS News affiliate. “But it’s a lot easier for the state to close one place down, but if we did it all together it’d be a lot better.”