Business owners weigh in on emergency rules

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The governor has released new emergency rules for the state. It lets local governments fine businesses that don’t enforce masks. Those rules start next week. Business owners could face nearly $3,000 in fines if they don’t follow them.

Some businesses owners have gone above and beyond to keep customers safe during covid-19 restrictions. Take Urbana’s Bunny’s Tavern for example. “I can’t tell you the countless numbers of people that this is one of the only places they feel that they can dine outdoors and feel safe,” said owner Ben Manns. He supports the idea of harsher penalties for businesses that don’t comply. “It’s unfortunate, but I think that it’s a necessity.”

The rules offer a three-step process for dealing with non-compliant business owners. The first is a warning from public health. If that doesn’t work, public health will come in and order some customers to leave. That’s to reduce risk and follow public health guidance. As a last resort, owners could face fines of up to $2,500.

“It does give us a little bit more jurisdiction to go in and hopefully make some change and get some compliance from businesses outside of the ones that we normally issue permits to,” explained Macon County Health Administrator Brandi Binkley. Binkley says they have already been using a three-strike system of sorts with restaurants and bars that get their license through public health. This new emergency order will be an expansion of their power.

That’s no concern for Sharon Crow, who owns Checkered Moon in Champaign. “We’ve done everything from installing three air sanitizers that are medical grade,” she explained. “We also take clothing if people try it on and isolate it for 24 hours and sanitize it.” She’s happy something is in place to keep others in line.

“If we all do it together, we’re gonna get through it quicker. Keeping the numbers down is just key.”

Champaign-Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist Awais Vaid says they plan to roll out the new system next week or the following one. They’re still working on finalizing them with city and county leaders.

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