On Thursday, Governor JB Pritzker announced he will extend the Illinois Stay Home Order through May 30. In addition to the extension, the Governor announced some modest changes to the restrictions that accompany the Order.
“While I was glad that some of the common sense changes House Republicans asked for were made, I am disappointed that he has dismissed the idea of using a regional approach to reopen the economy,” said State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville). “In fact, during the Q and A portion of the briefing on Thursday, when asked about reopening parts of downstate Illinois that are not seeing infection rates like in urban areas, the Governor laughed. To the Governor, I say this: We in Central and Southern Illinois, who are forced to abide by your statewide mandates, we’re not laughing.”
Bourne pointed to one common sense change made in the order allowing for hospitals to begin scheduling elective surgeries and health screenings. She also said she was pleased to see that several State Parks will reopen on May 1 and that some people will be able to fish and boat recreationally under the relaxed order. “These are important first steps, but they do not go far enough. We need better access to healthcare, we need certainty for our healthcare workers who are facing shortened hours, and we need full access to our outdoor resources.” Bourne said. “Combined with the May 1 reopening of greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries, and golf courses, at least people will be able to enjoy some outdoor activities while we face an additional 5 ½ weeks of staying home.”
The small positive steps were overshadowed by Pritzker’s refusal to allow small businesses in some parts of the state to reopen. “Social distancing in rural parts of the state is not nearly as much of a problem as it is in Chicago and the suburbs,” stressed Bourne. “Our small, mom-and-pop businesses are really struggling. I believe they deserve an opportunity to reopen, put their employees back to work, and require proper social distancing, heightened cleaning techniques, and the use of face coverings for employees and patrons. They can do this safely and easily, but are being denied the opportunity because our Governor is forcing a one-size-fits-all response on all parts of Illinois.”
Bourne said she is hopeful that over the next several days, before the modified order takes effect on May 1, Governor Pritzker will review the restrictions and allow rural small businesses to begin their economic recovery.