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Suburbs get ready for new normal as Pritzker’s reopening plan enters next phase

Enforcement of new restrictions remains a question — one mayor says, “We do not have the legal authority to enforce any of this.”

The Orland Park Police Department
The Orland Park Police Department
Sun-Times Media

Most of Illinois is set to move into the long-awaited next phase of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan Friday, a crucial step toward restoring the life Illinoisans once knew.

But that doesn’t mean all will necessarily go back to normal in the suburbs. Pritzker’s plan still restricts gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Face coverings are required in public. Retailers may open, but with limited capacity. Barbershops, salons and gyms must follow certain rules.

And while some suburbs might put their own restrictions in place, enforcement is another question.

“We do not have the legal authority to enforce any of this,” Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said Thursday.

Pritzker said all regions of the state are eligible to move to Phase 3 of “Restore Illinois” on Friday, though Chicago is planning to begin its own partial reopening next week.

“Our goal is, and always has been, to keep people safe from this coronavirus while we restore more of our normal activities,” Pritzker said. “So it’s important that we remain careful.”

The governor released guidelines last weekend to help retailers, manufacturers, barbershops, salons, health and fitness centers and other businesses prepare for the move 10 weeks after Pritzker’s stay-at-home order first went into effect March 21.

Pritzker’s plan allows restaurants and bars to open for outdoor dining only, limited to parties of six people or fewer. Youth sports activities are limited to drills, practices and lessons that involve no contact between kids and allow for 6 feet of social distancing. Fitness classes are limited to one-on-one training, outdoor classes with a maximum of 10 participants and no contact between attendees.

Personal care services — such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, waxing centers and tattoo parlors — can only be performed while the customer and employee are both wearing face masks. And massages and body treatments are limited to 30 minutes or less.

Tinley Park Assistant Village Manager Pat Carr said his village does not intend to deviate from Pritzker’s plan. Rather, he said, “We’re working diligently with all of the businesses that want to open. We are assisting them with expedited permits to do their outdoor dining and we’re here to help these businesses to try to get back up and running.”

Oak Park spokesman David Powers also said in an email that the village will follow state guidelines.

The City of Evanston’s website said there were plans to open tennis courts and the Church Street Boat Ramp last week, though tennis courts were only expected to open at half capacity.

Orland Park began to draft its own “Back to Normal Plan” in late April, before Pritzker announced his “Restore Illinois” plan. An updated version recommends no groups at restaurants larger than four, unless children are included. It even recommends restrictions for golf courses, going so far as to say, “flagsticks are not to be removed.”

But Pekau said the plan amounts to a list of recommendations meant to educate and inform residents. He said his village has not enforced any coronavirus restriction. Its attorneys don’t believe it has that authority, he said. Rather, he said he expects the thousands of businesses in Orland Park to focus on making their customers comfortable.

“The marketplace will figure this out,” Pekau said.