East Peoria Begins Phased Reopening Today
The city of East Peoria will allow nonessential businesses to begin reopening Friday.
East Peoria Mayor John Kahl is implementing his Tri-County Phased Reopening Plan, which allows salons, barber shops, spas, gyms, and other businesses to begin reopening with social distancing protocols in place.
The mayor said he believes COVID-19 has plateaued locally and it's time to move forward.
"I'm not discounting it. I'm trying to find a healthy balance. And I think with this approach, by doing a slow reopening, and allowing people to make their decisions, is the right approach. And I think it's doable," he said.
The Tazewell County Health Department encouraged continued compliance with Gov. Pritzker's stay-at-home order in a statement Friday.
"TCHD highly recommends the public to continue to follow good public health practice as outlined in the Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order. There are many challenges and unknowns with the COVID-19 pandemic. TCHD urges the public to continue to use precautions such as proper hand hygiene, social distancing (at least 6 feet) and wearing a face covering," the statement read.
Kahl said while the Tazewell County Health Department hasn't endorsed his approach, he'll continue working with them to monitor local COVID-19 cases.
"I'm listening to everything that everybody is saying. But at the end of the day, one thing I'm not is blinded by fear. And this thing is not just going to go away magically one day. I mean, we have got to find some normalcy and get things back on track," Kahl said.
Restaurants, bakeries, and bars will continue to only be open in a drive-through or curbside pickup capacity. Those businesses could begin reopening at 50 percent occupancy on May 15 under Kahl's plan.
The mayor said the governor hasn't talked to him about the possibility of sending in state police to enforce his stay-at-home order in East Peoria. He characterized his plan not as an act of defiance against Gov. Pritzker, but an action to help local businesses and citizens.
He said the East Peoria Police Department only had one issue with non-compliance with the governor's order since it began in March.
"The answer isn't the government dictating what you should and shouldn't be doing," Kahl said. "I mean, people have a personal responsibility.
Twenty other elected officials from Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, and Fulton counties have endorsed Kahl's approach. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis was not among those signatories, citing a lack of "medical metrics" in Kahl's plan.
We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WCBU will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WCBU can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.