KANKAKEE – Members of 11 area Chamber of Commerce from across Region 7, including Will and Kankakee County, have pinned a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker asking for the same ‘opportunity’ Region 4 was given.
The letter was pinned by representatives from Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce, Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Lockport Chamber of Commerce, Monee Chamber of Commerce, Heritage Corridor Business Alliance, Frankfort Chamber of Commerce, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, Mokena Chamber of Commerce, Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce, and Manteno Chamber of Commerce.
“These businesses are part of an industry that has been one of, if not the most, severely affected during this pandemic and to place these additional measures on them will be catastrophic to their survival.” the letter states. The communal letter also said it was ‘unfortunate’ the region had been driven over the 8 percent threshold.
For those unfamiliar with Region 4’s restrictions, the Governor implemented relaxed mitigations after listening to seven local area health departments. It was a decision the Governor later called Tuesday, ‘a mistake’. Region 4 was the first region to have any mitigations go into effect under the new IDPH guidance.
“We ask that the State and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity immediately set up a system to automatically approve all of those affected by this mandate to receive funds in the next round of the Business Interruption Grants. It is the least that our government can do for those that continually face an uphill climb to run their business.” the letter demands.
Will County Executive Denise Winfrey said Tuesday the county’s residents are “strong enough to do the right thing,” while Kankakee County Board Chairman Andrew Wheeler called the new migitations ‘beyond unfair.’
Local officials had been warned in June when Restore Illinois was implemented that such restrictions could see newly formed regions slide backwards to mitigate the virus at a local level. “This is a red alert for everyone who works and lives here and demands a renewed effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.” Gov. Pritzker said of Region 7 residents Tuesday afternoon.
Since the ‘RED ALERT’ announcement, 90 children at Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53 have been quarantined as schools across the region shift to remote learning.
You can read the full letter in its entirety below.
Dear Governor Pritzker:
As a Chamber of Commerce, we routinely advocate on behalf of our members in several areas of interest. Today, on behalf of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry and our neighboring chambers we stand together and write to you to share our very serious concerns with the recent decision to implement what we believe are unfair restrictions targeted at the restaurant and bar industry.
One of the greatest and most displeasing issues is the fact that our Region 7 has not been afforded the same opportunity as the businesses in Region 4 to reduce the number of inside patrons at bars and restaurants before moving onto harsher restrictions such as what are in place beginning today. These businesses are part of an industry that has been one of, if not the most, severely affected during this pandemic and to place these additional measures on them will be catastrophic to their survival. We ask for immediate consideration to reverse your decision and allow these establishments to remain open for indoor seating at a capacity of the lesser of 25 individuals or 25% of capacity. These businesses deserve the same opportunities as the Metro East region and now face issues of scrambling to use up inventory and secure outdoor seating equipment and supplies.
Yes, they will adapt and do what is necessary to keep their doors open. Why though, does one industry need to bear the brunt of the responsibility to reduce positivity rates throughout the region. They have had to pivot and re-create once and are a determined group, but this decision is just going to pull more resources from them. It is our hope that they will all survive these latest restrictions, but nothing is guaranteed.
It is unfortunate that recent spikes have driven our region over the 8% threshold. However, we fully support actions to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus through proper mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, and additional methods of sanitization. We also believe that the great majority of our business members are following these guidelines. At the beginning of this pandemic, it was our understanding that we all needed to accept the responsibility of lessening the burden on the healthcare system and decrease the death rate. With that said, we believe that our medical providers have more than adequate resources and availability to serve those in need. In addition, we do not see an increase in the death rate in this region and in fact it seems to be steadily decreasing.
Finally, in light of this detrimental decision, we ask that the State and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity immediately set up a system to automatically approve all of those affected by this mandate to receive funds in the next round of the Business Interruption Grants. It is the least that our government can do for those that continually face an uphill climb to run their business. We would be more than happy to hold further discussion on this proposal to see that this industry can be accommodated.
Jen Howard, President, Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Kevin O’Keeffe, Executive Director, Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce
Tasha Marsaglia, Executive Director, Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Annette Parker, Executive Director, Lockport Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Therese M. Bogs, President, Monee Chamber of Commerce
Glenn Pasiewicz, Executive Director, Heritage Corridor Business Alliance
Kris Pasquini, Interim Executive Director, Frankfort Chamber of Commerce
Reba Osborne, Director of Government Affairs, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce
Melissa M. Fedora, Executive Director, Mokena Chamber of Commerce
Angela Morrey, Executive Director, Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce
Sarah Marion, President & CEO, Manteno Chamber of Commerce