Rockford mayor warns: an extension to Illinois’ stay-at-home order could still happen

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LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — The owner of Fozzy’s Bar and Grill on Riverside says that he is working on maximizing outdoor seating, even as Rockford’s mayor cautions that a new stay-at-home order could disrupt Winnebago County’s reopening plan.

“It’s at least a start, for us to start bringing in more revenue,” said owner Nick Fosberg. “We’re not specifically designed for all outdoor seating, but we’re going to do what we can. We’re going to get some big tents and tables and put those outside in order to maximize the amount of people that we actually serve.”

Winnebago county bars and restaurants are hoping they will be allowed to reopen for outdoor seating only starting on Friday, May 29th.

But Thursday, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara warned about the possibility of Gov. JB Pritzker issuing a new stay-at-home order.

“If I was a restaurant owner, I wouldn’t be going out and purchasing tremendous amounts of food thinking I am going to be open that first day of June,” McNamara said. “We still have several days to find out if there will be a new executive order or legislative action, so I would move forward with some caution.”

Marc Falkoff teaches constitutional law at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He believes the governor has a legal basis for extending the stay-at-home order under the Illinois Emergency Management Act, because many emergencies take longer than a month to fully manage.

“I personally believe that the best reading of the statute is that the governor must have the authority to do that, because fallout from nuclear bombs or pestilence, or even long-term floods don’t tend to resolve themselves in 30 days,” he said.

Fosberg says that it’s been difficult to adjust to changing rules and regulations.

He’s hoping that restaurants will be able to reopen for indoor seating sooner rather than later, but says that putting up tents in the parking lot could help him serve additional customers in the meantime.

“You gotta be creative, and if you aren’t, you’ll probably go down. We gotta make with what we can, can’t really change too much because we don’t have any power over the Governor,” he said.

If the stay-at-home order is extended, Winnebago County will not be able to proceed with its reopening plan.

Gov. Pritzker is expected to detail his Phase 3 reopening modifications on Saturday.

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