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Mayor urges businesses not to open

Citing local coronavirus figures for the past 2½ weeks, a Vandalia alderman on Monday campaigned for opening local businesses.
Mayor Rick Gottman disagreed, saying that those businesses that do open would face serious consequences.
Alderman Steve Barker supported relaxing the restrictions on local businesses due to the recent levels of coronavirus cases locally.
Barker said that he contacted the Fayette County Health Department for an update on COVID-19 cases in the county.
“We have the existing 16 cases that we’ve had for quite a while, two deaths. We now have 12 recovered,” Barker said.
“And I asked about the two that were still under observation, and she says, ‘Well, this doesn’t mean that they are active, just under observation.’
“So, that’s the point – we haven’t had anybody (tested positive) since the 23rd of April,” Barker said.
“And, I believe that this area, we could just, we just start laxing up. We’ve got to, because our businesses are hurting,” he said.
Gottman said that that’s not possible because of Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive orders.
“We can’t, legally, by law, tell beauty shop they can open,” he said.
Gottman said that contrary to some reports, Marion has not completely relaxed the state restrictions in its community.
“Marion’s not 100-percent open,” he said. The Marion mayor, Gottman said, “is basically saying the same thing that I’ve been saying – you open at your own risk.
“If you have a state license, the state overrules anything that the municipality or the county does … and I did verify that,” Gottman said.
City Attorney Ryan Connor said, “As a matter of record, I agree with you on that, mayor, and I would say that our role is to make some determinations with regards to enforcement, but, certainly, we have no power to change anything that’s happening at the level above us at the state.”
“If you have a liquor license,” Gottman said, “the county or the state can come in and take it.
“If you have a tax license, the Illinois Department of Revenue could come in and take it,” he said.
“There are other licenses out there and we’ve had a lot of discussion on that, but we, as a city, are not saying that they can reopen,” Gottman said.
“Do we want them to reopen? Absolutely,” he said.
Gottman reiterated what the mayor of Marion said – “If you do something, you have consequences to pay.
“There are not very many days, except Saturday, that I’m not on a conference call or a meeting or whatever it may be in regards to COVID-19,” the mayor said.
He said
Gottman said that he has been asked to put together a committee consisting of mayors in the county, and that that committee will be meeting this week to discuss where their municipalities stand and their concerns.
Gottman will report on that meeting to state Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City).
Barker asked about the status of lawsuits filed by state lawmakers who are seeking to lessen the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Connor said that at this point, “there are no rulings that would impact the COVID-19 executive orders.
Gottman said that he wanted to “make it very clear that I’m on board of trying to get stuff open, because it affects me. My wife owns a business in town, too, and she’s got rules that she has to go by.”
He said that this area’s representatives and senators “are engaging with the governor to hopefully ease up on downstate with these regulations.
“Blaine is really out there pushing it,” Gottman said.
“I do want to make it very clear that I want to get these businesses open, not only for selfish reasons, because of my wife, but also because these businesses are suffering, and I know that we’re going to lose probably two businesses,” he said.

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