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Northern Illinois mayors ask governor to allow reopening

Pritzker has said he’s continually evaluating an extension of the order, which expires April 30, as other states have done.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides an update on Illinois’ coronavirus situation Saturday at the Thompson Center. 
Pritzker has said he’s continually evaluating an extension of the order, which expires April 30, as other states have done.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Five northern Illinois mayors have asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker for the authority to reopen businesses next month, urging local control over restrictions and “common sense modifications” to a statewide stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pritzker has said he’s continually evaluating an extension of the order, which expires April 30, as other states have done.

The Winnebago County leaders — of communities ranging in population from roughly 1,300 to 23,000 people — said in a Friday letter to Pritzker that thousands of employees, including in the restaurant, fitness and salon industries are being unnecessarily harmed because they’re not considered essential workers, according to the Rockford Register Star. They said the need for financial aid has exceeded resources.

“Countless business owners and employees have been asking ‘If social distancing is working at big box stores, then why can’t the same social distancing measures be safely applied to small businesses?’” says the letter urging “common sense modifications” and regional control over restrictions.

The leaders are from Loves Park, Machesney Park, South Beloit, Cherry Valley and Durand.

However, the mayor of Rockford, the county’s largest city, disagreed with the effort, saying it’s not the time to reverse course.

“A plan to open all businesses on a single day — or to allow a hodgepodge system where each city makes its own rules — is not responsible when we know it will be right in the middle of our surge,” Mayor Tom McNamara said in a statement.