House Republicans demand data transparency tying indoor restaurant seating to COVID-19 spike

Governor JB Pritzker announced that beginning Sunday, November 1, restaurants and bars in Illinois Region 3 will be closed to indoor dining/serving, and that other public gatherings will be limited to 25% capacity or 25 people, whichever is lower. In response to the Governor’s announcement, House Republicans who represent the communities in Region 3 are demanding to see concrete data that ties the recent spike in COVID-19 to indoor sit-down dining.

Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer opposes Governor Pritzker’s unilateral decision to shut down indoor dining, an action that may force many restaurants to close their doors permanently.

Region 3 includes the following 18 Central and West-Central Illinois counties: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hancock, Jersey, Logan, Schuyler, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon and Scott. 

“On a call this morning, the Governor’s Office and IDPH once again refused to show us legislators the data and science that supports closing restaurants to indoor seating,” said State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville). “Before we take this drastic step that will certainly put some of our restaurants and bars out of business for good, we need to have confidence in the data that is driving these decisions. We need full transparency and cooperation from the Governor and his staff. Additionally, the Governor’s continued go-it-alone approach without formally consulting the legislature goes beyond his constitutional authority. If the Governor wants us All In, he needs to include all elected officials and all data in these decisions. ”

Last week Regions 5 (southern Illinois), 7 (Will and Kankakee Counties), and 8 (DuPage and Kane Counties) were tagged for heightened mitigations. So far this week Regions 4 (Metro East), 9 (Lake and McHenry Counties), 10 (suburban Cook County), and 11 (Chicago), were announced for mitigations. With today’s announcement for Region 3, nine of the state’s 11 regions will be facing heightened restrictions by Sunday.

State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) questioned the metrics being used to trigger mitigations, and suggested the Governor is using the wrong data to support his interventions. “The Pritzker administration is using the wrong metrics in their unilateral decision-making to shut down our restaurants and taverns,” Davidsmeyer said. “These are small businesses that have been operating carefully and following CDC guidelines. There is no evidence that outbreaks have started because of indoor dining. The State should not be punishing responsible small businesses and their employees, which have already suffered enough from the pandemic and shutdown.”

Per the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan, heightened mitigations can be triggered when a region posts positivity numbers of 8.0% or higher for three consecutive days. Region 3 posted positivity rates of 8.0%, 8.1% and 8.8% over the last three days. While the number of tests and number of positive tests are made available, the state is not sharing contact tracing data that targets positive cases to specific settings.

“Governor Pritzker needs to make decisions based on science instead of punishing small businesses in central Illinois,” said State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield). “In a call with IDPH today, we were told that two recent events in Region 3 which led to a spike in positive cases did not occur at a bar or restaurant. So I again am left asking the Pritzker administration, where is the contact tracing data we have been asking for? Governor Pritzker needs to be more transparent in the decision making because his decision to close indoor service at bars and restaurants doesn’t make sense.”

“I’m disappointed with Pritzker’s refusal to release contact tracing data that he says justifies his decision to close indoor service at bars and restaurants,” said State Representative Mike Murphy (R-Springfield). “Dr. Ezike stated today that the biggest cause of outbreaks is universities and large private gatherings; however, the new restrictions only damage local small businesses that provide opportunities for thousands of workers to make a living.”