Winnebago County Sheriff says he will not enforce new coronavirus restrictions aimed at bars and restaurants

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ILLINOIS (WTVO) — Region One of Illinois will face stricter mitigations starting Saturday. Restaurants and bars are ordered to follow harsh restrictions, but a Southern Illinois attorney says businesses have other options.

“Under no set of facts, under any law, under any rule is a felony charge against anyone possible,” Managing Attorney of Silver Lake Group Ltd., Thomas DeVore, said. “You’d be surprised how many business owners across the state believe that somebody can just say oh you got to shut down and they really don’t have any choice.”

He explained that owners should recognize the fine print of rules in place.

“The rule that was passed in August by the Illinois Department of Public Health, rule 690.50, specifically excludes any type of charge being levied against an individual,” he said.

Attendees came from all over the Stateline to gain important knowledge that could keep their businesses running.

“Our county is strictly tourist based, huge economy tourist based, and this is really impacting shutting down again and again and again. Making them eat outside as we start getting colder and limiting the number of people inside the restaurants it’s just hurting them,” said Steve Mcintrye.

For Winnebago County, where the positivity rate is much higher than Jo Daviess, Sheriff Gary Caruana said his department won’t enforce the new rules.

“I can speak for me and my department,” Sheriff Caruana said. “In this county we’re not doing anything about it.”

“Whether they make any decision or not it’s their choice, it’s not mine. I’m not trying to encourage anyone to make any different choice, I’m just trying to give them information and hope they make good decisions with it,” DeVore said.

The Winnebago County Health Department issued the following statement Friday morning: “We understand that there is a significant amount of miscommunication on enforcement. The enforcement procedures that have been implemented in Winnebago County have been shared with our local establishments and have been posted on our website. The Illinois Department of Public Health has also posted the Emergency Rules associated with the Control of Communicable Disease Code (77 Ill.Adm.Code 690). If compliance is not achieved through the actions, then further action may include Class A misdemeanor charge pursuant to 20 ILCS 2305/8.1.”

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