Businesses in Winnebago County, Illinois appear to be defying COVID-19 restrictions, while no enforcement action has been taken against businesses in Rock County, Wisconsin.
In Winnebago County, a total of 27 businesses have been issued notices of non-compliance related to the latest COVID-19 restrictions. The businesses have received notices from the Winnebago County Health Department at varying stages of the enforcement process.
The businesses are accused of not complying with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order which does not allow indoor dining at bars or restaurants. The order went into effect Oct. 3 because the COVID-19 positivity rate in Region 1, which includes Winnebago County, was above 8% and hospitalizations due to the virus were on the rise. The Winnebago County Health Department reported the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests had risen to 11.1% as of Wednesday.
The health department conducts inspections and provides education. After one violation, a notice of non-compliance is issued. The timeline for compliance depends on the nature of each violation, followed by an additional inspection. A notice to disperse is issued when no corrective actions have been taken followed by a Public Health Pandemic Emergency Rule Enforcement hearing. If a business does not attend, a closure order will be issued under the Illinois Department of Public Health Act.
Of the businesses that have received non-compliance orders, five have received an order to disperse. Neighbor’s Bar and Grill in Loves Park, was issued an order to disperse on Oct. 6. Other orders to disperse include Rascal’s Bar and Grill in Loves Park, RBI’s in Rockford and Waffle Shop in Loves Park.
Doc's Diner, Fozzy's Bar and Grill and Neighbor's Bar and Grill have all been issued orders to close from the health department.
Near the state line, Sophia’s restaurant in Roscoe received a notice of non-compliance on Oct. 7 for failure to suspend indoor service, while Ace Hardware in Roscoe was cited a non-compliance notice for failure to comply regarding the wearing of face coverings. Staff at Sophia’s did not immediately respond to request for comment on Wednesday.
Jessica’s Family Restaurant in Roscoe was also issued a non-compliance order on Oct. 13.
In South Beloit, Nora’s Place received a notice of non-compliance on Oct. 7 for failure to suspend indoor dining. A representative for Nora’s declined to comment regarding the notice when contacted by the Beloit Daily News on Wednesday.
Also in South Beloit, Neli’s Family Restaurant was issued a non-compliance notice on Oct. 13.
On Oct. 1, a large group of area business owners met at Giovanni’s in Rockford and received legal counsel urging businesses to remain open, with a presentation alleging the latest restrictions in Illinois are unconstitutional.
In Rock County, the Rock County Public Health Department has not issued any citations related to non-compliance of the statewide mask requirement, according to Public Health Communications Specialist Jessica Turner.
“We continue to take an education-first approach when responding to complaints related to COVID-19 mandates such as the statewide face covering order,” Turner said.
As of Oct. 13, the City of Beloit has not issued any citations related to non-compliance of COVID-19 safety requirements, with the city also emphasizing education when in contact with businesses, said Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther.