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Local

'I'm fed up': 3 more businesses join restaurant lawsuit against Pritzker, IDPH for COVID-19 mitigations

3 more area restaurants join lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker, IDPH

When asked how he feels about Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health’s regional mitigations, Karl Gallagher said that he is “fed up.”

Gallagher is the owner of Karlsbad Tavern & Grill in Genoa, one of three more DeKalb County restaurants joining a lawsuit filed against the governor and the IDPH alleging “unfair” regional mitigations because of COVID-19 resurgences.

“I understand that there’s a pandemic going on, but the government isn’t giving us any additional help,” Gallagher said. “I’m fed up. I’m tired of the flip-flopping regulations.”

Gallagher said he remembers when the pandemic first began and regulations first went into place.

“It was the day before St. Patrick’s Day, one of the busiest days of the year for us,” Gallagher said. “I had hundreds of pounds of corned beef that I didn’t know what to do with. ... I feel like I’m in the same situation again.”

Karlsbad Tavern & Grill, 413 W. Main St. in Genoa, Uncle Milty’s Pizza Palace, 131 W. Market St. in Somonauk, and Rambo’s Bar & Grill, 140 W. Market St. in Somonauk, have joined seven other business owners across the county in suing the the governor and IDPH director Ngozi Ezike, their lawyer, Bradley Melzer of Sycamore-based Cronauer Law, said on Thursday.

The update comes a week after seven business owners said they’re suing to appeal to public health officials to designate COVID-19 mitigation rules on a county-by-county basis, not regionally. They’re arguing that the metrics used to designate mitigations – including a positivity rate threshold of 8% – is unfairly skewed because of higher rates in Winnebago and surrounding counties.

To date, DeKalb County on its own has not exceeded the 8% threshold requires for mitigtions.

“Despite a rolling positivity rate of under 8% in DeKalb County and the lack of science and data for these restaurants and bars showing a spread of COVID-19 in DeKalb County, the governor imposed ‘resurgence mitigations’ or ‘Phase 3’ restrictions,” Melzer said Thursday. “This has eliminated indoor dining and restricted hours of operation for outdoor dining.”

Melzer said he expects the amended petition to go before DeKalb County Circuit Court Judge Bradley Waller on Friday morning.

A week ago, the original lawsuit included the filing of an emergency temporary restraining order request, asking the judge to delay mitigations such as barring indoor dining.

The petition for a temporary restraining order, which asked that restrictions on indoor dining be delayed so that a judge could hear testimony on how those mitigations are “unfair” to local businesses, was denied by Waller last Friday at the DeKalb County Courthouse.

In his ruling, Waller said he made his determination because the law states that operating a business is not a fundamental right under the Constitution, although he said he feels for local businesses hurt by further shutdowns.

Melzer is also representing the original filers of the lawsuit: Owners of Fatty’s Pub & Grill in DeKalb, Remington Gastropub in Malta, The Lincoln Inn and Faranda’s Banquet Center in DeKalb, Ellwood Steak & Fish House in DeKalb, The Junction Eating Place in DeKalb, MVP Sports Bar in Sycamore and El Jimador Mexican Grill, which opened in downtown DeKalb on Sept. 29.

Those business owners say they want local control to be able to better and more fairly determine which restrictions are required based on local cases of the viral respiratory disease.

Gallagher said that as a restaurant owner, he “takes it day-by-day” because he doesn’t know what will happen next.

“We still have pickup and delivery, we’re doing what we can,” he said. “Support your local businesses as much as possible. That’s all you can do.”

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