Downstate municipalities weighing options to allow early reopens

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UPDATED AT 9:00 p.m. FORD COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Ford County board members approved a resolution to support local businesses. The resolution does not explicitly say how businesses should reopen if they choose to, but says the county will not stand in the way.

FORD COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Add Ford County to the list of municipalities considering their legal options to reopen local organizations and businesses ahead of Gov. JB Pritzker’s five-phase, Restore Illinois plan.

On the agenda for the county board Monday evening is a resolution to support local businesses, the health department and local law enforcement — which would “encourage local businesses and (Ford County’s) citizens to re-open under the current, existing guidelines and recommendations of the Ford County Health Department.”

Ford County’s discussion Monday night on whether to approve that resolution — and its implications for businesses in the area — follows a public announcement by the Moultrie County State’s Attorney Tracy Weaver last week. Weaver said in a press release that her office would not prosecute businesses or churches that reopen early.

“This should not be perceived as a determination that no aspects of the executive order are enforceable, but remember prosecutors are granted absolute discretion regarding whether or not to prosecute a case within their jurisdiction,” Weaver said. 

Already in Clark County, county board members there voted 6-1 to allow unincorporated areas of the county the option to return to work and reopen businesses ahead of May 30 — the end date of Gov. JB Pritzker’s modified Stay-At-Home order.

Similarly, Madison County board members will vote Tuesday evening on a plan to reopen the county as well.

The business of deciding whether — or how — to enforce the Stay-At-Home order until the end of May isn’t just the purview of county boards: in Douglas County, Sheriff Joshua Blackwell said he wouldn’t require the order be enforced and in Woodford County, Greg Minger said he wouldn’t prosecute violations of it.

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