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One step back, Champaign County joins the rest of the state in Coronavirus resurgence mitigation

On Friday, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced resurgence mitigations would go into effect in Region 6 - which includes Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Dewitt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby and Vermillion counties - starting 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 2.

The 21-county region recorded a 7-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8 percent or above for three consecutive days, which exceeds the thresholds set for establishing mitigation measures under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan.

In order to get back to Phase 4 and back to having indoor dining, the region will need a positivity rate of less than 6.5 percent for three straight days. If that rate stays above 8 percent for 14 days, then the region will face even more restrictions.

While Champaign county, if you ignore the University of Illinois' testing efforts, boast a 7-day positivity of 5.7, six counties are flaunting double-digit numbers. Coles county is currently at 11, Effingham 11.2, Macon 13.7, Douglas 14.9, Shelby 15.9 and Cumberland 26.1.

The resurgence mitigation restrictions target bars and restaurant in order to control the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Pritzker has said there are dozens of studies and articles on outbreaks in bars and restaurants to justify reducing the services they provide.

Mitigation measures taking effect November 2 in Region 6 include:

Bars

• No indoor service
• All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.
• All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
• No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed) 
• Tables should be 6 feet apart 
• No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
• No dancing or standing indoors
• Reservations required for each party
• No seating of multiple parties at one table

Restaurants

• No indoor dining or bar service
• All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.
• Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart
• No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
• Reservations required for each party 
• No seating of multiple parties at one table

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings

• Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity
• No party buses
• Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable

Two area restaurants, Buford's Pub in Sadorus and Apple Dumplin', just outside the Urbana city limits, informed customers via Facebook that they intend remain open despite the restrictions from the state. Both business saw overwhelming support in both comments and "Likes".

Jeff Buckler, owner of Buford’s Pub told The News-Gazette it wasn’t an easy (decision) to make.

"Let me put it that way. We went through the last one; it was supposed to last two weeks and lasted what, 120 days?" he said. "I’m fighting for every small business out there. I’m just tired of being told what to do when they’re using the bars and restaurants as scapegoats. What about the Walmarts and Targets?"

On a Facebook, a post by Buford's Pub's said, "Its not just about my business its about all small business stand up against a dictator. Bars and (sic) are getting the brunt of this and combined we are less then (sic) 9% of the whole issue."

Meanwhile two days earlier, bars and restaurants in Region 9 received similar news.

A Crystal Lake attorney on Thursday filed a 78-page lawsuit on behalf of 37 McHenry County restaurants, hoping to bring the state’s mitigation plans to a halt and allow owners to continue offering indoor service.

A day later, McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer denied the application for a temporary restraining order. The Northwest Herald reported he made his decision based on new facts and that mitigation order was not an extension the governor's executive order from last March.

"It was a difficult and unpleasant order to enter," Meyer said in the article. "But I do believe that there is a basis for the new executive order and that is how we end up where we are."

Buckler and Jim Flanigan, owner of the Apple Dumplin', have retained attorney Tom DeVore, who made headlines this summer when he represented state Representative Darren Bailey effort to null the state's mitigation order in a lawsuit and won. It was through DeVore's efforts a Clay County judge declared the Governor’s continuing use of emergency powers as an overstep of his constitutional authority.

The ruling, depending on who you speak with, is only applicable in south central Illinois county where the daily testing positivity is at 14.9 as of the time of this story and pushing a 7-day rolling average of 9.7. An appeal filed by the governor is still pending on the Clay County case.

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