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Madison County Board of Health votes to allow businesses to reopen

Madison County’s Board of Health, acting despite stay-at-home orders issued by the state, has voted to allow businesses and places of worship to reopen in a four-phase plan that will start Wednesday. The plan depends heavily on those willing to adhere to public health guidelines.

The Board of Health, comprised of all County Board members, voted Tuesday night, 26-2, to allow the reopening in four phases. Members of both political parties voted for the plan.

“This bipartisan resolution expresses the confidence the Board of Health has in businesses to open in a safe and reasonable manner,” Chairman Kurt Prenzler said.

Prenzler said passing the resolution gives business owners and residents the freedom to make their own choices.

“We want to balance the goals of public health, our economy and jobs and our constitutional rights,” he said. “We understand these are hard times, but we also understand there is a need to support the financial health of our communities, the business owners and their families.”

The resolution recommends guidelines for the responsible reopening of businesses, organizations and churches. The resolution makes no comment or opinion on insurability or licensure of any individual or business.

Following are the recommended guidelines for the responsible reopening of Madison County, as stated in a press release issued Tuesday evening after the vote.

“Madison County is committed to reopening its business community and getting residents back to work in a safe and responsible manner. At the same time, we are asking citizens to do their part to take all necessary precautions to ensure the health, safety and well-being of everyone. During each phase of these guidelines, Madison County will continue to monitor the status of its impact in coordination with the local health department and staff. As with any plan, the elements presented here include timelines and are subject to change without notice.

“It is imperative that all business owners pre-plan for any reopening. They must have a structured plan to deal with an unexpected surge in customers or clients in their respective businesses. They should be completely familiar with all CDC and local health guidelines prior to opening to ensure the safest operation possible. Owners should have an emergency contingency plan in place in the event of a virus outbreak affecting their business which includes, at a minimum, notification of such to the Local Health Department and the County Board of Health.

“All citizens have the ultimate responsibility to follow local guidelines with respect to social distancing and other safety practices set forth. If any business owner feels uncomfortable about opening their business, we recommend you remain closed. We urge you to use your best judgement regarding your personal situation. No one is required to open a business if they feel it is in their best interest to remain closed. We also recommend that you use that same discernment with your employees, especially any employee who may be part of a vulnerable group, or reside with someone who is part of a vulnerable group.

“We can all do our part by practicing preventive measures, such as:

– Frequently wash your hands with soap and water

– Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

– Avoid contact with sick people if possible

– Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing

– Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces

– Ensure to maintain at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals

– Stay home should you have a fever or otherwise feel unwell”

“These recommendations establish what we believe is a responsible path forward for our county to begin reopening. It does not guarantee the state wide legality of any reopening outside of the parameters of the emergency orders issued by the state of Illinois. Doing so may cause a business owner to lose its state or federal licensing and/or liability insurance coverage.”

The following recommendations apply to all phases as follows:

– All businesses and other locations open to the public are recommended to follow the guidelines of the CDC, including but not limited to: the reasonable use of face masks, proper sanitation, appropriate social distancing and monitoring of employee’s temperatures at the beginning of the shift.
– Family members who are sheltering in the same residence may visit or participate in public activities together without restriction on their number count.
– All occupancy count shall be calculated using the total occupancy limits of any building open to the public as determined by the local fire marshal.
– Any business owner who is uncomfortable with opening or moving to the next phase should continue to remain closed or remain in the phase they are currently in.
– All county residents who have been defined by the CDC as a vulnerable group should continue to adhere to the CDC recommendations and limitations on social interaction.

PHASE 1 (estimated May 13 – May 27, 2020)

1. Nonessential travel may resume.
2. Avoid social gatherings of 10 or more people.
3. Retail business may open with a 25% occupancy.
4. Restaurants/Bars may continue to prepare and serve food for off-premise consumption while serving through means such as in-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through service and curbside pick-up. Additionally, patrons may use seated dining at a rate of 25% occupancy.
5. Personal Care Providers (such as hair, nail, massage, etc.) may reopen. When possible limit customers by appointment only.
6. Professional Services (such as banking, accounting) may reopen. When possible limit customers by appointment only.
7. While the Madison County Board of Health recognizes the constitutional limitation we have to regulate attendance and religious freedom, churches and other places of worship may open with a 50% occupancy.
8. Childcare facilities may reopen. All food preparation surfaces, handles, knobs and common surfaces shall be sanitized before and after each use. Continual cleaning of surfaces used by employees and children is encouraged.
9. Gyms, exercise facilities and other indoor recreation spaces may reopen at 25% occupancy. Equipment should be maintained according to local health department guidelines.
10. Public parks, golf courses, campgrounds, athletic fields, swimming pools and other outdoor recreation spaces may reopen. Distancing between family members is at their discretion. Golf carts can have an occupancy of two people or more if designed for extra passengers. It is suggested that one bring sanitizing wipes for common items (items open to use by all visitors such as playground equipment). The bleacher section must follow social distancing guidelines. Personal seating may be used, but social distancing guidelines must be maintained.
11. Theatres, museums and bowling alleys may reopen at 25% occupancy.

PHASE 2 (estimated May 28 – June 12, 2020)

If after 14 days of following the Phase 1 guidelines, and Madison County Health Department assessment of COVID19 cases presenting for hospitalization remain sufficiently below the hospitals ability to treat the cases, the following practices shall be in place in addition to the above stated openings:
1. Avoid social gatherings of 50 or more people.
2. Retail business may open with a 50% occupancy.
3. Restaurants/Bars may continue to prepare and serve food for off-premise consumption while serving through means such as in-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through service and curbside pick-up. Additionally, patrons may be seated dining at a rate of 50% occupancy
4. Churches and other places of worship may open with a 75% occupancy.
5. Concessions at athletic events may be reopened.

PHASE 3 (estimated June 13 – June 27, 2020)

If after 14 days of following the Phase 2 guidelines, and Madison County Health Department assessment of COVID19 cases presenting for hospitalization remain sufficiently below the hospitals ability to treat the cases, the following practices shall be in place in addition to the above stated openings:
1. Avoid social gatherings of 150 or more people.
2. Retail business may open with a 75% occupancy.
3. Restaurants/Bars may continue to prepare and serve food for off-premise consumption while serving through means such as in-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through service and curbside pick-up. Additionally, patrons may be seated dining at a rate of 75% occupancy.
4. Churches and other places of worship may open with a 100% occupancy.

PHASE 4 (estimated June 27, 2020)

If after 14 days of following the Phase 3 guidelines, and Madison County Health Department assessment of COVID19 cases presenting for hospitalization remain sufficiently below the hospitals ability to treat the cases, the following practices shall be in place in addition to the above listed openings:
Open Madison County completely as long as data evaluation suggests it continues to be safe. These recommendations may change if data suggests a reevaluation is warranted.
As long as there is not a vaccine or permanent cure for COVID-19, it’s recommended all residents follow CDC guidelines and continue to take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves and others to minimize the spread of this virus

Here is the resolution to recommend guidelines for the responsible reopening of the county, as stated in a release issued Tuesday evening:

“WHEREAS, we are a Constitutional Republic in the midst of a national public health crisis which has created a necessary tension between Constitutional rights and protecting the public; and,

“WHEREAS, while we recognize there are certain aspects of this public health crisis that are appropriately managed at the Federal or State level, we also believe that local governments are best suited to promulgate rules and regulations that affect citizens locally; and,

“WHEREAS, we recognize our duty under Illinois State Statutes to function as the Board of Health of Madison County, taking into consideration national and state rules in regard to this public health crisis, recognizing the unique local problems presented in Madison County, and believing in the innate common sense, responsibility and reasonableness of our Madison County citizens; and,

“WHEREAS, the Madison County Board wishes to balance the goals of (a) public health, (b) constitutional rights, (c) improving the local economy by allowing local businesses, churches and places of worship to “reopen” in a safe and responsible way; and,

“WHEREAS, the Madison County Board recognizes the economy of Madison County has suffered a sudden and severe decline, evidenced by:

“a. 15,000 citizens of Madison County filed new applications for unemployment during the months of March and April, and

“b. the county received a WARN notice from US Steel indicating that 737 union and management jobs may be lost in the next 90 days, and

“WHEREAS, the Board of Health wishes to provide the attached recommendation for phased reopening to provide reasonable and responsible guidelines for businesses and places of worship to reopen consistent with the goals of public health, due process, and with equal protection for all involved.

“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Board of Health of Madison County, Illinois, hereby promulgates the following Resolutions, Recommendations and Guidelines for conduct during this public health crisis and the reopening of any business in Madison County, is hereby adopted:

“1. Hearing the Governor’s call to Restore Illinois, and the President’s call to Reopen America, we understand that the Madison County Board believes that the time has come to responsibly reopen Madison County to the free activities of free citizens.

“2. We understand that the freedoms and rights contained in our Constitution encompass free travel, free association, and free operation of lawful businesses unless by due process of law those rights are restricted.

“3. In Madison County, we believe all businesses, churches and places of worship are essential. They are free to impose their own restrictions on entry or use of their stores or shops as they deem appropriate and the public is encouraged to observe and comply with these restrictions.

“4. In order to encourage public trust and transparency during this dramatic time, if a business, places of worship or other entity desires to re-open, it should plan to do so in a safe and responsible way, with phasing as to not jeopardize health, if appropriate.

“5. Upon a complaint of any business or public location not complying with reasonable CDC health standards, all available appropriate actions may be taken to ensure the public safety.

“6. This resolution makes no comment on the powers or activities of the Governor or other government entities outside of the control of the Madison County Board of Health, but we strongly encourage such entities to respect the rights and self-government of Madison County citizens, allow Madison County citizens and businesses the freedom to responsibly reopen pursuant to local control and oversight, and to not punish (be it by threatened court action, removal of licenses, etc.) those businesses, places of worship, and other entities responsibly reopening in Madison County pursuant to the local oversight outlined in these guidelines.

“7. The adoption of this resolution makes no comment or opinion or promise as to the insurability or licensure of any individual or business for operating in a manner inconsistent with any executive order or state statute.

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Board of Health of Madison County, Illinois, will continue to monitor the cases of the coronavirus in Madison County going forward and may continue to issue locally devised guidelines as Madison County lives with the coronavirus pandemic, and encourages all citizens to conduct themselves in accordance with these Guidelines, CDC guidelines and common sense, in a socially responsible manner. As in the criminal law, we recognize that some will not act reasonably or within the spirit of these Guidelines. For anyone who does not adhere to these common-sense reasonable and responsible Guidelines and who acts recklessly, we may pursue all available remedies at law to ensure the public health and safety.

Adopted this 12th Day of May, 2020.

____________________________________

Kurt Prenzler

Chairman, Madison County Board of Health

 

Democratic Party head calls plans dangerous

The chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party said a resolution drafted by Madison County Board would “dangerously encourage” small businesses to open their doors without insurance or liability coverage.

“We all understand that there must be a plan in place to help reopen Madison County, and to help save small businesses, retailers and manufacturers, but this plan would ultimately endanger those same small businesses across our county,” said Randy Harris. “Item 7 in the Resolution clearly shows (Madison County Chairman Kurt) Prenzler knows that small businesses may not be insured, may put their business licenses in a risky position, and he’s trying to avoid any legal liability for the county, while still encouraging businesses to open.  This is politics, plain and simple.”

Prenzler is a Republican.

Harris called the plan “reckless” and “entirely a political move intended to draw attention away from the ongoing corruption and lawsuits by members of his administration.”

“It is no coincidence this ‘plan’ was floated the day after the two corrupt former members of his administration sued the county following their termination over a massive political spying scandal,” Harris said in an email circulated prior to the vote. “Businesses are hurting, Prenzler needs to show real leadership and work with our other elected officials to get our county reopened.  I beg of Chairman Prenzler to stop playing politics with people’s livelihoods and safety.  The situation we find ourselves, requires real leadership, not merely something to use for political gain. Chairman Prenzler’s singular focus on “opening-up” is not only foolish, but dangerous to the many small businesses who will believe this gives them the green light and legal cover to reopen.”

Harris said the plan fails to address the legal ability for small businesses to actually open their doors. The plan also encourages businesses throughout the county to open, but specifically says, “The adoption of this resolution makes no comment or opinion on the insurability or licensure of any individual or business for operating in a manner inconsistent with any executive order or state statute.”

 

1 Comment

  1. Aaliya on May 21, 2020 at 5:19 am

    It is good to hear about the opening of businesses in Maddison. But I am scared that the spread of the virus would increase with the opening of shops and other business centres. I run a retail store in Maddison county and I would take sincere efforts to follow the guidelines listed in the post.

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