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Town Of Normal Warns Pandemic Scofflaws Of Liquor License Suspensions

The mayor of Normal said he's had to eat his words from a couple weeks ago when he argued McLean County didn't need mitigation efforts that were as stiff as those in counties with higher COVID-19 testing positivity rates.

On Tuesday, Mayor Chris Koos said since then the rate for McLean County has risen above the statewide average.

Koos said it has been "disconcerting" the way coronavirus case numbers and positivity rates, now above 14% in the county, have ramped up.

And Koos said there are still establishments that are not obeying the governor's order banning indoor service at bars and restaurants. He said two of them hold liquor licenses.

The town has sent warning letters to four food and beverage establishments that are disobeying the ban on indoor service, he said, and separate reminder letters about the Gov. JB Pritzker's requirements to all license holders.

"In terms of the liquor license holder, I could suspend their license for seven days, possibly longer. We've indicated that's a possibility. If we don't get compliance, that's likely what we'll do," said Koos.

Koos said he won't publicly identify the four unless they persist in ignoring COVID mitigation rules because he is still trying to gain compliance.

He said the town also is sending police reports and violation notices on the four to the state health department and the Illinois Liquor Commission, noting family and friend gatherings are the leading cause of viral spread in the county.

"That's why we're encouraging people to shelter at home with your own family and avoid contact with people until this positivity rate goes back to a more acceptable level. That's the number one issue," said Koos.

Koos said he supports an Illinois Municipal League request for the state to form a working group of mayors and other local officials to better coordinate coronavirus response. On its own, the League has said small town leaders may have difficulty addressing violations from residents and businesses. The League said local leaders are being asked to enforce coronavirus measures without necessarily having enough assistance from state government to back up their authority.

Koos said he hopes new record numbers of positivity rates, hospitalizations, and active cases are a peak and not a jumping off point.

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WGLT News Director Charlie Schlenker grew up in Rock Island and graduated from Augustana College. He has spent more than three decades in radio.