DECATUR — Decatur and Macon County law enforcement agencies don't have the manpower needed to enforce the state's restrictions on restaurants and bars.
In surprise remarks at the end of Monday's Decatur City Council, Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said that determination was made following meetings with Police Chief Jim Getz, Macon County Sheriff Tony Brown, the state's attorney's office and other officials who would be called upon to patrol individual businesses to check for compliance.
"Additionally, we would be potentially sending people into what I consider to be dangerous situations: either a bar full of COVID carriers or angry people who might push back," said Moore Wolfe.
Region 6, which includes Macon County, was placed under increased restrictions in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The measures, which went into effect Monday, ban indoor dining and bar service and limit gatherings to 25 people, down from 50, or 25% of capacity. Gaming establishments have to close at 11 p.m. as well.
Moore Wolfe said action would be taken against "blatant" gatherings like large parties and events and she warned businesses that end up with complaints lodged against them were risking their liquor, gaming and amusement licenses. She said the city planned to launch a digital campaign appealing for unity to try and encourage the community to cooperate and get through the health crisis together.
"None of this is easy; our businesses have been dealt a tremendous blow by COVID that they may very well never recover from," she said. But the mayor also warned that Decatur and the whole region was in the grip of a "serious health care crisis" where one out of every three patients in the city's hospitals is now a COVID patient.
"It's not like we can look around our region and say 'Hey, it's not us." 'Cause folks, it is us," Wolfe added. "We are the problem and we've got to do something about it."
New Central Illinois COVID restrictions: What to know
Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.