URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)–The owner of The Apple Dumplin’ in Urbana said he’s taking a legal risk and keeping his restaurant open for indoor dining. It could lead to a showdown as public health officials try to enforce the rules.
They’re challenging public health officials for several reasons. Owner Jim Flaningam argued that Gov. J.B. Pritzker doesn’t have valid authority to enforce or punish any restaurant for not following the State’s Tier 3 mitigation guidelines.
Flaningam said he’s also concerned for the financial well-being of his staff. Some members were hit especially hard by the first shutdown. Flaningam said making sure his employees have enough to make ends meet is something worth fighting for, but public health officials said it’s a health risk.
“I’m not a defiant person. I’m a decent person,” Flaningam said. “And as a decent person, I have to look out for my employees and their families. They depend on me, and as an employer those are people I really care about.”
Public health officials said they’ll offer alternative tips and advice to help adjust to the new guidelines, but would issue ordinance violations or suspend health permits if needed.
Flaningam said he wants his customers to be able to keep having the experience of indoor dining. He said the restaurant has complied with every other guideline the state has given him, including enforcing masks and social distancing.
The Champaign Urbana Public Health District said its goal is not to punish restaurants, but to get them to voluntarily comply. They say The Apple Dumplin’ can either close indoor dining, or appeal their suspension through a hearing process.
Public Health came to The Apple Dumplin’ to issue a suspension on Thursday morning, the suspension is currently being disputed. Their interaction can be watched here.
The rest of their interaction can be watched here.