Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker changes course, state will allow limited outdoor seating at bars, restaurants in Phase 3 - Boating, camping up to 10 people - Tennis facilities to open - Golf foursomes - All state parks to open - Explains reasons for withdrawing IDPH rule - Leader Cunningham says new bill won’t be anything beyond a fine - Cunningham explains JCAR process - Explains why Amy Jacobson was excluded - Says withdrawing rule was not an admission that he’d exceeded authority - “President Trump isn’t following science or data” - Continuing to look at childcare rules - Time for ethics bills later this year - “Won’t stand for” cut in breast and cervical cancer screening program - Supports raising tax credit threshold for biz paying higher minimum wage - Says will donate profits if any of his companies do business with Illinois government - Unsure on how much state will borrow from Federal Reserve program - Rep. Bailey showed “callous disregard for people’s health”
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Pritzker changes course, state will allow limited outdoor seating at bars, restaurants in Phase 3 - Boating, camping up to 10 people - Tennis facilities to open - Golf foursomes - All state parks to open - Explains reasons for withdrawing IDPH rule - Leader Cunningham says new bill won’t be anything beyond a fine - Cunningham explains JCAR process - Explains why Amy Jacobson was excluded - Says withdrawing rule was not an admission that he’d exceeded authority - “President Trump isn’t following science or data” - Continuing to look at childcare rules - Time for ethics bills later this year - “Won’t stand for” cut in breast and cervical cancer screening program - Supports raising tax credit threshold for biz paying higher minimum wage - Says will donate profits if any of his companies do business with Illinois government - Unsure on how much state will borrow from Federal Reserve program - Rep. Bailey showed “callous disregard for people’s health”

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Pritzker at his daily briefing

When I introduced our reopening framework. I said that we can and we will make our restore Illinois plan smarter as we move forward. That is as true today as it was a few weeks ago. We are by no means out of the woods, the virus is still causing sickness and taking lives, but directionally things are getting better.

And because of these advances we’re able to make some modifications to allow more activity during phase three of our reopening plan, restore Illinois, which all regions of Illinois appear to be on track to reach by the end of May.

Every day from the beginning of this pandemic my team and I have been in close consultation with public health experts, both inside and outside government to discuss when and how we can return, different elements of everyday life for Illinoisans. Our mission has always been to get people back to work, get students back to school and return to as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans. To do so, we’ve listened and learned and tracked the science and the data every day to ensure that we’re taking the best possible approach based on that work. The experts have indicated that we can build on to our plan to bring back more activities faster, as long as Illinoisans continue to do as we have been doing adhering to precautions and safety measures to keep each other safe.

I want to begin by talking about bars and restaurants, many of which are the beloved institutions that make the cities and towns of Illinois so special. The local diner, the corner bar with friendly servers and bartenders and owners known to the whole community. Tragically, they were some of the first and hardest hit by this pandemic. To date, my administration is delivered 10s of millions of dollars of assistance to small businesses, including two bars and restaurants. The industry employs hundreds of thousands of people in every corner of our state and financial assistance, isn’t enough. So it’s been important to me to reopen them, but only if it can be done in a way that keeps its employees and customers safe.

Given what is known about how this virus spreads in closed spaces, our public health experts made the decision early on that bars and restaurants should not open their regular indoor food service, and that’s still the case, until we reach phase four.

That has turned out to be a good public health decision. But we have to put public health first. And that means the safety and peace of mind of consumers and employees alike. But the epidemiologists now believe that summer offers us an opportunity, if proper precautions are taken by businesses and their patrons. So after listening to and working with restaurant industry representatives, together with our epidemiologists.

Today I’m announcing an additional option for bars and restaurants interested in resuming operations earlier. Opening for outdoor seating when phase three begins, likely for everyone just nine days from now. With the right restrictions, tables, six feet apart, and away from the sidewalks masks and distancing measures for staff and other precautions. The experts believe that these services can open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities, and give our hospitality industry, a much needed boost, as they work to keep their businesses on their feet during this terrible crisis.

Please remember to pardon all transcription errors.

* More…

On that note, I want to encourage municipalities and mayors who are interested in helping restaurants expand their outdoor seating options to do whatever is in their power and best fits their communities to help these restaurants. We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of creativity from every corner of the state throughout this crisis and I have no doubt that Illinois will continue that spirit as we pave our way forward.

Looking ahead, I also want to elaborate on next steps for outdoor activities. As laid out in Restore Illinois, phase three permits all gatherings, not just essential ones of 10 people or fewer. That means if you want to go enjoy a picnic in the park or walk with nine other people, you can just remember to wear a mask or face covering when social distancing can’t be maintained.

With this new 10 person gathering limit our restriction around outdoor activities and phase three,we’ll see some changes. That means, boating, or camping with up to 10 people is welcome in boats that are an appropriate size to hold that number.

Illinois is also allowing the reopening of indoor and outdoor tennis facilities with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits.

* More…

As for golfers, in phase three courses can allow foursomes out on the same tee times. Carts will also be permitted with only one person per cart, or one immediate household member per cart.

With significant work to determine staffing and safety measures, all state parks will reopen on May 29, all concessions will reopen as well under guidelines set for our retail and food service businesses in phase three.

* And more…

Additionally, in the coming days we will be providing guidance on how other outdoor recreational businesses, such as driving ranges ,outdoor shooting ranges and paintball courses can safely open their doors in phase three.

And on the topic of the days ahead I want to remind everyone of the other businesses and activities already laid out for phase three. In phase three personal care services like nail salons, beauty salons, spas, tattoo shops, hair braiders and barber shops, can open with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits for health clubs gyms and fitness studios one on one. Personal training in indoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes of up to 10 people are allowed with precautions adhered to. And all retail stores, basically any store that wasn’t already opened as an essential business can choose to open their doors to an in person shopping with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits in place.

* More…

The virus has not gone away. Other states that have thrown out restrictions and decided to just go without regulation are seeing rising cases and beginning to see rising hospitalizations. Here in Illinois, we have followed the science and we’re succeeding. But we can’t let up now. We’ve come too far and we’ve made so much progress because we’ve kept social distance worn face coverings in public, washed our hands frequently and taking care of our most vulnerable to the best of our ability. We must persevere, Illinois. This road is a long one. And I know that it’s hard to see that heat on display by recent protesters who ignore that we’ve lost thousands of Illinoisans to this virus. Thousands more are fighting for their lives in our hospitals, and our medical professions, and our medical professionals are heroically working around the clock to save lives. perspective is often difficult to find from up close, but the way the vast majority of the people of the state have come together in this, in this moment is truly incredible. I have never been more proud of Illinois.

* Sam Toia of the Illinois Restaurant Association…

Today’s announcements provides a glimmer of light at the end of this very dark tunnel. The governor’s action to allow for expanded outdoor dining options will be benefit to many, at a time when every dollar counts. We recognize that this action will not provide a solution for every operator, but it’s a step in the right direction for restaurant diners. […]

Let’s close down the streets, let’s expand sidewalk cafes that use parking lots and public ways. Let’s show the world how innovative Illinois can be. Again, while we recognize this solution won’t apply to all operators. It’s a step in the right direction and presents an opportunity for Illinois to demonstrate our leadership and innovation

* Back to Gov. Pritzker…

I want to address my administration’s emergency rule authorizing an additional compliance mechanism relating to our stay at home order, assisting local law enforcement and state’s attorneys in their work to keep people safe. The majority of states from our Midwest colleagues like Ohio and Wisconsin to other republican led states like Georgia and Florida have or have had a broader range of enforcement mechanisms relating to their stay at home orders. This temporary emergency rule brought Illinois in line with this national practice, giving local officials more flexibility in their ability to enforce this order with a simple citation that flexibility is the critical piece of this, the state already has enforcement authority, through an IDPH closure order or the revocation of a business license. But those tools are harsher measures than anybody, including me, is interested in pursuing. A business that chooses not to follow the rules can recover from a fine. It is much more expensive to deal with being stripped of a license or forced to close.

The General Assembly has now returned to its operations for the first time since March, and in consultation with leadership in the statehouse, my administration has decided to withdraw this rule in order to pursue legislation with the same intended mechanism in a phased manner in line with the Restore Illinois plan.

Enacting this measure through legislation will allow us to have these tools through our the Restore Illinois plan versus an emergency rule that would be withdrawn and rewritten at the start of phase three and then phase four. I’m here today with Illinois State Police director Brendan Kelly as well as Leader Bill Cunningham, who is sponsoring this legislation. I urge the General Assembly to take up and pass this legislation this week. Given the importance of what we are trying to do here, we will look to file an additional rule if legislation does not occur.

* Senate President Pro Tempore Bill Cunningham…

I want to focus on a point that the governor just made, that being that the legislature is back in session this week. So we all know that has not been the case for several weeks. In the absence of the legislature, the governor and his administration the various agencies in the administration have had to promulgate emergency rules. Many of those rules are meant to be aligned with the governor’s executive order related to staying safe during the coronavirus crisis.

By virtue of the fact that we’re here in town, we’ve talked with the governor, both members of the Joint Committee on administrative rules which I am the co-chairman of, and the leadership in both chambers. And we think it’s appropriate that we deal with this problem through the regular legislative order, and that’s what we’re committed to do this week. I think I can speak for myself and I believe a number of other legislators that we agree with the intent of the Department of Public Health, when it comes to enforcing the governor’s stay at home order. We’ve had some disagreements about the exact process, but now we’ll be able to delve into those things here in the legislature. That’s the way the process is intended to work, and we’re looking forward to working with a governor on developing a, I think a really important and sensible piece of legislation.

* Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly…

This is probably the most difficult public policy problem that law enforcement has faced, certainly in our lifetimes. Balancing the need for public health and public safety, as well as the need for personal rights and personal concerns and the ability for people to live their lives. This is an extremely difficult problem, and the men and women of law enforcement have risen to the challenge at every stage to do everything they can to protect the public health and these very different difficult circumstances.

* More Director Kelly…

Let me say from the very beginning it has been the governor’s intent and the governor’s direction from day one, that no one be arrested. No one be taken to jail. No one be put in that situation for violating the conditions of the executive order or any emergency rule, and that is the case today. The Illinois state police have not taken anybody to jail for violations of the executive order, or for any of the conditions related to emergency rules promulgated by any agency during the pandemic. […]

No one wants to take somebody’s liquor license permanently and put that business out of business. Absent that act, absent those measures the Illinois Department of Public Health Act which has been on the books for many years, we are left with enforcement of any type of rule that falls under the Illinois Department of Public Health Act.

Now that the senator, Leader Cunningham and the governor as they’ve mentioned today are moving forward with some type of legislation, what’s important is that we get what all law enforcement has been seeking throughout this process, and that we hope to see at the end of this process is consistency clarity and fairness.

* On to questions for the governor. Can you explain what this new bill will do and why you think it will have Republican support, or do you care whether it has Republican support?…

Leader Cunningham: I think it’s fair to say that there was a bit of an overreaction to the original rule. And that I think was created by the fact that it referred to a Class a misdemeanor.

Now, as the director said there was never any intent to see anyone arrested. There is a provision of a misdemeanor that allows for a fine. That was the intent. That was the intended enforcement tool, not a criminal charge that would allow that would end up in detention.

So we want to clarify that that is not part of our effort that we if there was any sanction in place, it would not be anything beyond it fine. That would be adjudicated in the civil court system, or through some administrative system, and not through the criminal courts.

We also, as has been mentioned, want to avoid revoking licenses that could have, I think, a long lasting negative effect on a business.

What we want to have is something that our public health departments and the police departments that they work in concert with to have tools to enforce the stay at home order, make sure businesses are following aspects of that order. And I think it’s fair to say we would like to do it with a soft touch. That is the intent of the legislation.

Obviously we will go through the process with both chambers going back and forth. But again, we’re looking to land on this, the intent of the rule, we’ll just do it through the regular law making process.

* Governor, there’s been challenges on your executive authority before, was this one where you finally said, I’m not going to die on this hill, let’s let legislature have a say?…

No, I think the Senator, leader, really expressed it well. The challenge of the existing legislation, which was originally enacted I think in the 19th century, is that it only allows for a Class A misdemeanor. And that’s a pretty large amount of latitude as some have pointed out right that even as much as potentially jail time although again that was never my intent and you can go back to press conferences two months ago, and you would hear me say that it’s never been my intent to have law enforcement to prosecute somebody or arrest somebody put them in jail. So, you know, we wanted to have some kind of enforcement mechanism and I think a citation is the right way to do it. I think the senator has described it well. And, you know, we’ve never looked for the maximum penalties under even a class a misdemeanor.

* The Committee met in pre-meeting for three hours. This is the kind of thing that taxpayers just rouses them, they want issues debated in Springfield and they want it to be open, why was your staff in their meeting setting for staff meeting and why don’t you condemn that kind of lack of transparency?…

Leader Cunningham: I want to just explain a little bit about it first. It is really a bridge between the legislature and the executive branch, we pass bills, in which we give rulemaking authority to agencies, the agencies, then propagate those rules. shaycarl looks at those rules and determines whether or not we believe they’re in compliance with the law is the process contest contemplates cooperation and negotiation between the legislature and the executive in this area. It is not uncommon at all for an agency to submit a rule, and for Jake are to engage in discussions with the agency promulgating the rule, and maybe not be completely happy with what they’ve proposed and urge them to amend that rule that happens all the time. We did that today with a rule that the Secretary of State’s office submitted. So this is a essentially a negotiation, like something that goes on every day, and the legislature between the executive branch and the legislative branch. When we take any action, those actions are taken in public, where it can be viewed by citizens, that’s what happened today that’s what has happened all along with the JCAR process.

* The new rule on outdoor eating and dining was exactly what a bar tavern restaurant in the Quad Cities was doing. I think they sued you. There’s a lawsuit because they were shut down, had picnic tables 10 feet apart, and they were serving carry out and then patrons were did that. Did that did that restaurant’s experience or any other restaurant’s experience, help, you know, make make you look at it again and if it did, why not give them credit and say, look at me I’m open to suggestions?…

I’ve been listening to restaurateurs and bar owners for quite some time. I’ve known Sam Toia for more than 20 years 25 years. I am you know I know quite a number of owners, as well as people working those [garbled] and I have been listening all along here because I want to do the right thing. The most important thing is that we’ve got to make sure that the epidemiologists the experts here, feel that we can execute this in a way that keeps people safe, that’s the number one consideration that was why we originally had to close bars and restaurants because the feeling back then. Without knowing much about this novel coronavirus was, we need to stop restaurants or bars while we figured out what the best way to proceed was. And even now as you know there are challenges and the restaurant industry has been terrific at proposing safe ways for people to dine and to go out and enjoy themselves, and the summer offers us the unique opportunity according to the epidemiologist for us to begin to bring those restaurants back online. So the credit really goes to the leadership of the industry, goes to the many restaurant tours who frankly have been good actors all along, and remember this is nine days away. So those people who have tried to flaunt, the rules, don’t in my opinion deserve to be rewarded. But I think the entire industry has acted in a proper way the vast majority just like the vast majority of Illinoisans have been doing the right thing to keep people safe.

* Why do you feel that not getting legislative involvement, especially from Republicans in the stay at home and shutdown orders has contributed to a growing backlash against these orders, should you have sought more legislative input sooner?…

Actually I’ve been speaking to legislators throughout this process.

They don’t, they say they say they can’t get any epidemiology studies they can’t get…

Well that’s not true

They can’t get any documents out of you and we say this, the governor says this, and…

That’s not true.

[Lots of cross-talk.]

Back to the governor with more crosstalk…

Here’s what I said what I excuse me the lawmakers got a briefing about it. But let me just say when I said what I said was this that we have, as you know, three different groups of experts who were bringing forward their models, and then we had a number of epidemiologists that we brought forward, and we even provided it for Republican legislators, as well as anybody else who wanted to join the ability to ask questions of those experts, and they did and it was a satisfactory event nobody complained during the event or even after the event. Maybe now because they’re acting in a hyper political fashion. They now want to complain.

* Please elaborate on the decision to exclude Amy Jacobson from these media briefings, and please explain the guidelines going forward for determining who will be allowed and who will be excluded…

[His press secretary said it was her decision and she would answer the question later.]

Did you, did you agree with the you agree with it though you could overrule her…

Look, when you’re standing up at a rally, where people are taking a political position, holding up Nazi swastikas, holding up pictures of Hitler and taking an extreme position as she did, it strikes me that that’s not objective in any way. It’s no, it’s not the way you act it’s not the way that your colleagues in the media act, who are reporters. That is not a reporter. She represents a talk show that has a particular point of view, we allowed her to ask questions because once upon a time she was a reporter, but she proved that she is no longer reporter.

[He should’ve just said she could send her questions to the pool reporters.]

* IDPH filed this emergency rule you’ve addressed this somewhat walk us through the thinking there it labeled these businesses like restaurants gyms hair salons high risk. You said, that’s already in the laws class a misdemeanor. There we file, the rule and all it seems you’re searching for some way to punish businesses who defy your order…

Again, looking for an enforcement mechanism for people who aren’t following the rules right they’re putting their, their communities in danger by opening their doors, when they are not eligible during phase two to open their doors, so they’re just flaunting the law and so the idea here was to give some methods short of the very draconian methods of closing the business or, you know, or taking a license away. So that was the intent.

* It’s true you have said all along for months that you didn’t wish to jail, anyone but you did say you could get your license and in fact some state licensing agencies have already reached out to businesses who defied them and threatened that very… So, I guess, in repealing this rule are you acknowledging that you exceeded your executive power?…

No. What I’m acknowledging is that we would rather not take away somebody’s license so we’d rather have an enforcement mechanism that was at a lower level and again, that’s what I think leader Cunningham’s bill will allow us to do.

* So all prior communication from state licensing agencies should those businesses, accept that those are also being repealed no longer valid?…

Well, again, if somebody continues to be a scofflaw if someone continues if some business continues to not follow the rules. There is the potential for those other enforcement mechanisms. We’d rather start with something that’s lower level.

* I wonder if you’re worried about I know you said you listen to these business owners and certainly to the protesters Do you worry about the political implications of the position you find yourself in here, as President Trump has many governors to reopen more quickly. Some of them are many of these states that have lesser restrictions than we have in Illinois are moving in that direction I know you’ve said you want to err on the side of caution and science, but at what cost Do you worry, come November that President Trump can look at states like Illinois and say look they were holding businesses back?…

First of all, President Trump isn’t following science or data. And second, if you look at really all the polling data as you’ll see the vast majority of people in the United States want us to follow the science and the data to get this right. And of course we also want to reopen businesses I’ve been doing that all along, looking at and, you know, figuring out how we can open more and more businesses. This is another way of the announcements that we made today. It’s another way to make progress, but we’re doing it right in Illinois, we know we’re not the last or the first.

I think we’re cutting the right path here, so that we can, again, the number one consideration, keep our people safe, make sure that our first responders are taken care of, make sure that we’re not overwhelming them. These are our heroes. I mean these are the people on the frontlines who are risking their lives every day. And when there are scofflaws out there when there are people who don’t follow the rules. They’re literally thumbing their noses at health care workers. And so I want to follow the science and the data, because we want to make sure keep people safe, and we’ll protect the people that were on the frontlines who are keeping all of us safe.

* With these rules that you’re relaxing outdoor gatherings and businesses, allowing some outdoor seating and and this modified modified phase three you’ve announced today. How does that change your plans for childcare and summer day camps?…

So we’re continuing to look at the rules for child care, we’ll be issuing some of those rules I talked about the industry groups that we’ve gotten together, all along here to, you know, not just the restaurant industry as we’ve talked about today, but many of the others manufacturing and so on, including childcare. So those rules will be issued and there’ll be for childcare providers, they’ll be able to see what is available and how they can expand their operations.

* And perhaps you can elaborate on the contours of what that may look like you said you’re in touch with faith leaders another example, we’re hearing a lot of questions from reporters as well asking one example. The Bank of Springfield Center is a big venue. Many churches might have similar floor space like that they’ve got more than 150 people in there today. But right now churches are limited to 10 people in their building. What if they got other rooms or more space that they have expansive venues, can, can your phase three or phase four account for that?…

You can see Dr Ezike nodding her head too. She too is a person of faith and we all want churches and mosques and synagogues to be able to open safely. And so we’ve been looking at all the ways in which to do that safely. As you know the Catholic Church came out with a plan. It’s a rather comprehensive plan that includes a webinar and how you perform a funeral or wedding and so on. And each one of the faiths have come forward or at least a number of them have to ask how could we do it safely and to put forward their ideas for getting it done, and we’re trying to work through all of those, because as you know each building each situation is slightly different what we did want to do though is make sure that people understood outdoor is much easier, drive, thru, drive in is much easier and setting rules around that immediately or very soon.

* How disappointed will you be if the legislature does not pass meaningful ethics reform in this special session, if I can add one more, you promised at the start of the session as well. Significant property tax relief for Illinois homeowners, those two things are not clearly labeled on the special session agenda should lawmakers make the time to get it done?…

Look there are three days of session planned, as I understand, and it’s because of this pandemic right i mean this is highly unusual I think all of us are recognizing that the circumstances in which the legislature is meeting. I’m glad that the legislature is meeting. But in order to get everything you know from the highest priorities done you know there’s a limited number of things that they can get done. And I think you’ve heard some of those already from the leaders themselves so I would very much like to see ethics legislation get through. I think there’s, you know we all think that you can’t give ethics if you don’t get something done in the next three days it can’t possibly be done this year. And the answer is, that’s not that’s not right. There is the rest of the year that I think the legislature is meeting these three days, in particularly, the number one concern is the budget and the number two concern is a Kovac relief package, because we’ve got to help people across the state. But there’s an opportunity and you know that I’ve worked across the aisle for the entire time that I’ve been governor, talking to listening to Republican legislators, as well as my friends in the Democratic Party. And so I really believe that there’s much more that we can get done later in the year.

* The proposed budget I think she’s referring to one bill that’s been filed would cut the state’s breast and cervical cancer screening program by 40%…

No, I won’t stand for that. I read [Hannah Meisel’s] column this morning and let her know, and I want to I mean that’s just wrong.

I know that the intention was good. The intention was that the money hadn’t been spent, the money that had been appropriated it wasn’t being spent because so many more people who need that service are actually being covered by insurance. Now, having said that, we need to make sure that that fun that those dollars are available for everybody who needs them who falls into that gap that that Hannah, you know, talked about this morning in her column, you’ve already illustrated the budget holes as income tax sales tax corporate income tax dried up during these coronavirus closures.

* Where are you going to go do you have to make cuts. Do you have to raise some fees for example I believe the CTB has suggested fees on attorneys practices are there any ways you can go that might be more progressive in nature that target, maybe like white collar jobs are more insulated from the corona virus can you look for revenue in those areas?…

So as you know I put forward a budget back in February, things have changed quite a lot but you know an outline of of what of that budget, the outline of which the legislature took upon itself, and then worked in their working groups to try to figure out how do you address the shortfall of revenues across the board. They have talked to many members of my administration to get help in putting those numbers together. So there really is a you know a cross functional effort to try to get a budget agreement, put together and, you know, and you see a lot of work has been done by legislators even though they haven’t been able to meet.

* You’re getting a crash course in the regionalization of politics in Illinois right now, part of that was the minimum wage fight a lot of regional Democrats and Republicans asked about that I think Senate Majority Leader Kim Lightford mentioned that she’s looking at, she’s hearing about this idea to modify the tax credits that were in part of the $15 minimum wage to go from 50 employees up to 200 to expand that considering many of these restaurants and bars are the ones who are paying these wages. Do you support an idea like that to raise the threshold up to 200 or so?…

I do in fact I’ve been talking about that really shouldn’t say early on, you’re expanding and others, an original tax credit that was put in place when the minimum wage was raised as you know this is a five year there are five roughly five years left in the ramp of the minimum wage, and I think it is would be helpful if we were able to expand that tax credit to give businesses the opportunity to to get a little bit back on the you know the increase in wages that they’re offering to people.

* A question on ethics, you’ve addressed a number of businesses already in the last two days that the Pritzker group has invested in the COVID-19 testing in some cases or in others, maybe working with major biotech or pharma companies as they raised to produce a vaccine or treatment and in these ways here. So on that potential conflict of interest before you’re not raising you pledge that anytime a company of yours has proceeds or profits from government contracts, you give that money to charity. Does that pledge still stand today and as it doesn’t extend to other reimbursement or funds that come from government?…

As you know, three and a half years ago now, I stepped away from my business interests entirely. And then about a year and a half ago, a blind trust was created so that I really have had no involvement with any of these businesses for three and a half years. Don’t know what what they’re pursuing or what their their interests are. And so, but to be clear, this is not something that I’m engaged in any way, I don’t want to know.

* It’s public information. It’s in their press releases and it’s on your statement of economic interest it’s in your tax returns, would you then pledge to release your full tax returns just so we can see?…

Well as you know the way that all that information is a statement of economic interest, and I did in fact release a multi page I don’t remember how many a dozen or more pages of … my statement of economic interest which is where you see listed each interest that I have any interest in. In fact, much more comprehensive than anything that you would see in a tax return. So to be clear. I have no involvement in these businesses that you’re, alleging that are owned and operated or doing something. And as far as I know there’s no business being done by any of them with the state of Illinois.

* Okay, but just to reiterate, they are a part of your portfolio today. Will you donate any those proceeds from government contracts or reimbursement to charity?…

I’m happy to if there’s something that they’re doing in Illinois.

* Question about what the gaming board is doing…

We’re very interested in making sure that the gaming board moves forward and in fact we’ve made changes so that they have the ability to meet. And so there’ll be other rules that will be promulgated going forward.

* For Sam Toia: Should people have to wear masks while they’re outside at these restaurants, should servers wear masks?…

Sam Toia: Oh, you know we’re working on PPE. It’s very important to, obviously hand sanitizers, obviously face covering, gloves on social distancing and like I said is number one. So, yes, we always say, Do not go against the governor’s executive order, so everyone should wear a mask obviously they need to take your mask off when they’re eating, but if they go to the bathroom, when they leave, they put your mask back on so yes, again, we are working on guidelines, but we’re listening to the scientists and doctors, because the number one thing is, we don’t want to open the economy, and then close it again. Okay. That is what restaurant tours bar owners, totally understand that would be the death. So, again, we want to listen to the scientists, doctors, work, work with our local leaders to, you know, help the bars and restaurants.

* Can you provide additional details on a proposal to issue up to $4.5 billion of short term debt to the feds municipal liquidity facility. Is it the state’s intent to issue the full amount?…

We hope not, because there is a state local bill funding bill that is working its way through the Congress even now. Whether the entire heroes act gets adopted by the Senate is unclear but it is reasonably clear to me that Republican governors and Republican senators need to support their states just as much as Democratic governors democratic senators do. And so I think that we’re going to see a state and local funding bill, go through the Senate, can’t tell you exactly when. So our hope is to not have to access that window that’s been made available to states, but but we will if we need to.

* Rep. Bailey was apparently just escorted off the House floor. Dr. Ezike explained the importance of wearing masks. And then the governor said…

Well, the representative has shown a callous disregard for life callous disregard for people’s health. You just heard a doctor tell you why people wear masks in the first place. It’s to protect others. So clearly the representative has no interest in protecting others



  1. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 2:55 pm:

    I’m going to sound like a lush here, but I was talking to a friend recently and we agreed the thing we missed the mostvwas bars. But that’s about sitting at one, talking to complete strangers.

  2. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 2:56 pm:

    “But the epidemiologists now believe”

    Translation: But due to building public pressure…

    Just kidding. Glad to see this new policy, and that it is “health expert driven.”

  3. - West Wing - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:00 pm:

    Certainly looks like the orchestrated political campaign downstate helped bend the governor’s ear … these new restaurant rules are probably good, common-sense rules as long as it’s outdoor dining …

  4. - Put the fun in unfunded - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:04 pm:

    Glad to see the public health experts, in 5 days, have gone from the emergency rule to this. “A switch in time saves 9.”

  5. - Pundent - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:04 pm:

    It’s good to see the Governor showing some flexibility here. I don’t think it will matter to his detractors who by and large don’t seem to want to adhere to any set of rules.

  6. - horseplayer - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:05 pm:

    This will help for now, but they’ll need reduced indoor seating ASAP. It will be hot and humid soon.

  7. - 1st amendment - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:07 pm:

    So still no church?

  8. - Almost the weekend - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    I’m sure the whack jobs will say they won this battle, but props to Sam Toia who has no doubt worked relentlessly behind the scenes, and Pritzker adjusting his phase 3 plan that seems safe and reasonable. People want local control, it’s now up to municipalities to execute this plan. Good compromise.

  9. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    “It’s good to see the Governor showing some flexibility here.“


  10. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:10 pm:

    Cheers. Now continue to allow for flexibility in Phase 3 and 4. Data and the understanding of science changes everyday and the plan should be able to change too. Small steps are ok. A good day for Illinois.

  11. - GregN - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:11 pm:

    Doesn’t do much for “corner taverns”, but it’ll help an awful lot of restaurants. Especially if local municipalities give up street and parking lot space.
    As long as it isn’t raining…

  12. - AD - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:11 pm:

    Can I go out to eat with friends or just people in my household? I suppose it would be hard to regulate, but it would be good to get out of the house and socialize over a beer and food.

  13. - Former Downstater - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:13 pm:

    Fingers crossed but I fear infection spikes in the future. And cue those business owners who don’t want to wear masks at all…

  14. - Nick - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:14 pm:

    People are still kidding themselves of they think this is going to save the restaurant or bar industry.

    But I imagine the calculus is the Governor probably figured resistance/local opposition would become insurmountable as June went on and it became Summer. So better to give ’some’ concessions so the Governor isn’t seen as being in daily battle with the corner diner.

  15. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:15 pm:

    - Certainly looks like the orchestrated political campaign downstate -

    Yeah, I’m sure that’s what it was.

  16. - Zim - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:16 pm:

    ==And cue those business owners who don’t want to wear masks at all…==

    And cue this consumer and others who will refuse to patronize those businesses.

  17. - Father Ted - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:18 pm:

    Rich, I hereby grant you a blanket pardon on all transcription errors. Your diligence in posting that each day is noted and appreciated. (smile)

  18. - Nick - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:20 pm:

    === props to Sam Toia who has no doubt worked relentlessly behind the scenes===

    This is especially true. Toia could just as easily have taken a different route and gone on radio or fox news to accuse the governor of wanting to destroy mom and pop stores, but instead he’s kept a level head and kept a seat at the table. Smart.

  19. - Jibba - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:25 pm:

    This is a baby step to slowly embolden consumers so they come out in force in July. If you threw it wide open today, many would not come out anyway and you’d be making the same amount of money, so why not start slower if the science wants it?

    I don’t see why everyone is not taking advantage of the great outdoors for retail, food service, bars, churches, hair/nails, and you name it. Would make me a lot more happy about going out and spending if I was not indoors pressed up against folks lacking masks.

  20. - Dave Dahl - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:30 pm:

    I told O’Connor I’d give him five bucks if he would say, “This question is from (name of banned person)”

  21. - Chatham Resident - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:31 pm:

    How many state parks will reopen–only to potentially close again due to budget/staffing cuts in the pandemic-wrecked FY21 budget?

  22. - GregN - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:32 pm:

    Wish J.B. would say flout instead of flaunt.
    Yeah, a nitpick.
    But still…

  23. - DoinStuff - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:34 pm:

    This is a positive development, but, can we talk talk about pools now? Summer is coming.

  24. - Louis G Atsaves - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:36 pm:

    10s of millions in aid to small businesses including to 2 bars and restaurants? That’s got to be a typo.

  25. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:38 pm:


    Did you hear what Dr. Enzike had to say about pools?

  26. - May Soon Be Required - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:39 pm:

    Do we think Mayor Lightfoot will follow Pritzker’s lead?

  27. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    “Do you worry, come November that President Trump can look at states like Illinois and say look they were holding businesses back?”

    Worry about the bleach drinking hydroxy popper who would use his office to lash out because of his thin skin while cases and deaths climb, rather than follow through with a comprehensive national pandemic plan?

    Has anyone seen Trump’s approval ratings, particularly on handling the pandemic?

  28. - SWBurbNerd - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 3:57 pm:

    I will be staying home for awhile yet. With my money. I think a lot of people feel the same way. Pretty obvious that many people today couldn’t handle a real national emergency. After what we have seen with all the temper tantrums we have seen people throw. Sad.

  29. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:00 pm:

    While JB is in the mood for changing course on things, it sure would be swell if his office would change course on taking away Bloomington-Normal’s public testing site and giving it to Peoria this Friday.

    Since JB announced he was taking away the testing site and giving it to Peoria, a large nursing home outbreak has been uncovered and we have seen an uptick on cases to the point where McLean County’s number of active cases is the highest it has been throughout the pandemic.

    And meanwhile, as noted in this piece, Peoria already has 4 public testing sites and Bloomington-Normal will have 0 after Friday.

  30. - Roadrager - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:03 pm:

    ==This is a positive development, but, can we talk talk about pools now? Summer is coming.==

    Found Amy’s discarded question from today’s presser.

  31. - dbk - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    I’m not fond of giving in to this sort of pressure - I always recall the old saying, “Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile” - but I think that preservation of the public peace is starting to become a real issue.

    Illinois has about four and a half months of good weather coming, so restaurants and bars can expand outdoor space considerably for 18-20 weeks. That should help, but it’s not a panacea by any means.

    Really any service that can be performed/enjoyed / experience outdoors is what we’re seeking the next several months.

    I’d avoid indoor spaces if at all possible; if not possible, then in and out, fast, wearing a mask.

  32. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:08 pm:

    There’s a significant portion of the public that is going to recognize the difference between “outdoor dining allowed” and “COVID-19 risk free dining options provided.”

  33. - Mr. Smith - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:08 pm:

    It’s amazing how readily the Governor’s detractors are claiming victory. Since practically day one of this, Pritzker has been listening to science, unlike most of his opponents. Opinion has changed, a fact which science deniers seem to believe means that science has no value. But unlike their philosophy seems to allow, facts and science can become more refined as new information is discovered that supports a change in thinking. Remember that a couple of hundred years ago, it was thought that manned flight was impossible. But as new information and discoveries came to light, those ideas changed.

    If Governor Pritzker was as tyrannical as the “Eastern Bloc” and their fans claim, there would be no changes at all. No modifications, no easing, and lots of arrests. Has that happened? NO. Is the Governor modifying his rules based on the opinion of others? Certainly. But I would also believe that if the science said no, absolutely not, it would not be happening as it is.

    The general trend of the disease is going as the Governor and scientists have hoped. Does that mean we are out of the woods? NOPE. So, by all means, let’s keep trying to remove restrictions where the science says we can. Let’s support our local businesses and help them get back on their feet. Let’s do it as safely as we can. But most of all, let’s have some faith in doing the right thing. Not the Republican thing, not the Democratic thing. The things that save lives and let us all move forward.

  34. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:09 pm:

    ==but, can we talk talk about pools now? Summer is coming.==

    Most pools will not open this summer. You won’t hit Phase 4 until at least July and even then you can only have gatherings of 50 people. Maybe if it’s a smaller public pool but unless you’ve got a pool or have friends with a pool or want to swim at the lake I wouldn’t count on swimming this summer

  35. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:11 pm:

    interesting. Very interesting.

  36. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:11 pm:

    ==Pretty obvious that many people today couldn’t handle a real national emergency.==

    With all due respect this is a real national emergency. But your point is valid. You have some Americans who simply do not care about other people. It’s all about “me, me, me” to them. It is indeed truly sad.

  37. - DoinStuff - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:16 pm:

    ==This is a positive development, but, can we talk talk about pools now? Summer is coming.==

    Ha. This wasn’t meant to be construed as being critical or cynical, legitimately just curious. I recalled Dr. Enzike’s comments some time ago concerning issues with locker rooms, restrooms, and the potential for transmission from (gross) fecal matter. The CDC has some updated guidelines available for pools, spas, etcetera and wondered if this subject had been revisited yet.

  38. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:17 pm:

    “but props to Sam Toia who has no doubt worked relentlessly behind the scenes”

    Indeed. So glad to see flexibility and cooperation.

  39. - Amalia - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:22 pm:

    @Mr. Smith, of course the detractors would claim victory. they are stunting.

  40. - Colin Robinson - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:32 pm:

    Any guesses on when state workers currently working from home will have to go back to the office? May 29?

  41. - Responsa - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:37 pm:

    You’re a mensch, JB. Suburban restaurants, especially ones with their own adjacent parking lots can close them and safely set up quite a few tables out there while maintaining social distance etiquette.

  42. - So Blue - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:37 pm:

    It should be interesting to determine how many people are ready to eat in restaurants even if outdoors.

  43. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:43 pm:

    Advice from Vietnam era: Declare victory and come home
    Going to be 80 degrees in Chicago this Memorial Day weekend lots of luck closing parks, forest preserves and lake front

  44. - filmmaker prof - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:44 pm:

    Personally, I believe Amy Jacobson is a clown, but the Governor absolutely should not be deciding who is or isn’t a reporter, nor should he in any way be trying to define what constitutes a reporter. This is a terrible pond for him to wade into, and his advisors should tell him to stay out of it. The First Amendment is pretty clear about the Government’s role regarding the press: it has none. Her questions shouldn’t be taken simply because they were not actual questions, but rather lectures with a question mark at the end. The government doesn’t get to decide who qualifies as a reporter.
    Also, keep in mind that the word they use for these briefings is “media”, not “reporter.” Amy is, by definition, media.

  45. - Huh? - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:51 pm:

    “Any guesses on when state workers currently working from home will have to go back to the office?”

    Betting not until step 4 when groups of up to 50 are allowed.

    Also will bet that many State of Illinois employees will request the opportunity to continue to work from home. The last 2 months removed any doubt that work from home is feasible and practical. This is particularly true when the orders to work from home came suddenly without much preparation or equipping the staff for working from home. State of Illinois employees have risen to the task of continuing their work under extraordinary circumstances. Cobbling together new procedures to accomplish their work and maintain productivity.

  46. - wade garrett - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 4:54 pm:

    ok so today was good but I do not trust Cunningham to draft anything fair he will support the Gov and they will try to wiggle as much power away as they can. this is far from over and may get worse, need to continue to contact Reps and complain.

  47. - Huh? - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:11 pm:

    “Going to be 80 degrees in Chicago this Memorial Day weekend lots of luck closing parks, forest preserves and lake front”

    The 80% chance of rain starting Saturday and going through the weekend will take care of closing the lake front, parks and forest preserves.

  48. - SWBurbNerd - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:14 pm:

    @Colin Robinson, I think that may depend on what the workers do in the offices and how large the offices are. Some state workers have been working in their offices or facilities the entire time. Some offices like Public Aid offices or Social Services may still work from home because its hard to keep social distancing in those offices. Others may open for staff but not to the general public

  49. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:14 pm:

    ===Since JB announced he was taking away the testing site===

    For weeks reporters from that area asked why so few were using the site. Then everyone’s surprised when it leaves. Weird.

  50. - The Night Fox - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:19 pm:

    I’ve been critical of this administration at times, and today I applaud the Gov for making these decisions. Let’s all celebrate the positives of today…businesses opening up some and Bailey being removed from BOS House floor today.

  51. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:21 pm:

    “Amy is, by definition, media.”

    So is Svengoolie. Neither of them is a reporter.

    – MrJM

  52. - Responsa - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:22 pm:

    On the same page as you, filmaker prof @4:44.

  53. - Muddy Trail - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:28 pm:

    == The 80% chance of rain starting Saturday and going through the weekend will take care of closing the lake front, parks and forest preserves.==
    More rain? Ugh.

  54. - 44th - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:44 pm:

    Good progress. Now to kids. Camps. Sports etc. baseball!

    On another note, can you imagine having to work with Bailey? He would be drummed out of most companies. Calling HR!

  55. - Pundent - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:48 pm:

    =the Governor absolutely should not be deciding who is or isn’t a reporter, nor should he in any way be trying to define what constitutes a reporter=

    She was not reporting on an anti-Ptitzker rally she was leading it. She is no more of a reporter than any of the swastika sighs holders in the crowd. She’s not being denied access she can submit her questions to the pool like everyone else. Given the treatment that actual journalists have been getting I think Pritzker was being kind. Yesterday a reporter asked the President what the plan was for reopening the country and was subsequently ridiculed for asking a bad question.

  56. - Rural stuff - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:54 pm:

    Still doesn’t go far enough for the southern counties. He keeps saying the vast majority are following the rules. I don’t think he’s driving through the three I am in all the time.

  57. - Jibba - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 5:59 pm:

    “Still doesn’t go far enough for the southern counties.”

    Would anything? Short of resigning…

    You don’t govern for the lowest common denominator.

  58. - Flyer - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 6:03 pm:

    A common sense approach that may ultimately be too slow for some areas of the state and maybe too fast for Chicago. I’ support the regional response.

  59. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 6:29 pm:

    What about boat rentals, Gov? Can we rent kayaks, canoes and row boats now, or is it strictly BYOB?

  60. - Strannik - Wednesday, May 20, 20 @ 11:14 pm:

    “It should be interesting to determine how many people are ready to eat in restaurants even if outdoors.”

    If what I saw in Michigan City, Indiana last weekend is any indication, some. I’m not qualified to judge whether that “some” is enough to make doing outdoor dining worth it for the restaurants, but certain degree of demand is there.

  61. - DirtLawyer - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 12:18 am:

    The problem is that Pritzker is correctly giving a few inches, but people are taking miles. I drive past a church in Kankakee County with a full parking lot for services tonight, and the pastor was on social media video, ignoring masks and social distancing and railing about politics. At least one restaurant is reopening tomorrow; I used to be a customer but won’t go there now. If they’ll cut this corner I fear they may cut others.

  62. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:07 am:

    Arlington Heights is considering closing some downtown streets to accomodate restaurants’ ability to have outdoor seating.

    Not a good idea due to more congestion and parking issues elsewhere in the community. It’s bad enough when Springfield had street festivals and parades downtown–the parking and congestion issues near the event deter me from wanting to go.

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