McLean County Board member Chuck Erickson has his own proposal for the county to reopen.
The Bloomington Republican said he would like to see businesses start to reopen on May 23 with safety protocols. That's about a week sooner than the earliest that the state could move to Phase 3 of reopening under Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan.
Erickson wants to go straight to Phase 4.
“I don’t think the governor technically is going to be really upset with us if we are just a step ahead of him,” Erickson said. “If we are eight steps ahead of him, maybe he says, ‘You can’t do that.’”
Erickson said he'll push the target opening date back to May 29 if that will get more support on the board. That would sync the timing with Pritzker’s plan to open parts of Illinois’ economy.
“I’m just looking for something that’s politically doable that balances the concerns of everybody,” Erickson said. “You’ve got the people that say they won’t want to put anybody’s lives at risk, but we have to get our businesses going. What can we do?”
Erickson said if the Heart of Illinois subregion plan gets McLean County opened sooner, that's fine, too. He submitted his proposal to county administration on May 11, before the 11-county subregion plan took hold, adding his proposal is modeled after a plan Clark County adopted last week to open businesses there.
Erickson said he wants business to continue to follow stringent safety guidelines, including requiring everyone to wear masks, practicing social distancing, screening staff and limiting capacity at bars, restaurants and retail shops.
“It’s not a free-for-all,” Erickson said.
He said even if the restrictions make it difficult for businesses to function at reduced capacity, it’s better than being closed entirely.
“I think if you give a businessman the opportunity, he's going to figure out how to do it," Erickson said. "I also think if you give a businessman the opportunity, if his customers think that his restaurant or his place of business is unsafe, they are not going to go there."
The county board is expected to vote on the plan at its May 19 meeting.
Board Chairman John McIntyre is polling board members about whether the county should formally support the Heart of Illinois plan. The Executive Committee, which includes Erickson, is split on the idea, with committee member Susan Schafer saying it’s too soon to start reopening the economy.
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