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Lee, Ogle Counties release plan to reopen sooner

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DIXON (WREX) — On the heels of Gov. Pritzker releasing a five-phase plan to reopen Illinois, Lee and Ogle Counties come together to create a plan for reopening the region sooner.

The plan will have to be reviewed by the state, but it lays out a plan different from the Governor's.

“This phased process brings us hope of returning to a new normal in the coming weeks and months,” said Jeff Fiegenschuh, Rochelle City Manager. “I’m confident that our community will come together to make the plan a reality.”

Dixon City Manager Danny Langloss says the first step is reaching out to small businesses to make sure they can meet the requirements.

Some of those requirements include:

  • customers must wear masks
  • businesses have to be able to stay clean and sanitize after customers leave
  • the occupancy of a business must be either limited to five people or no more than 25 percent of fire code regulations.

Leaders there say they want the state's regions broken up even smaller to separate them from bigger cities.

"We've tried to build a local approach," Rep. Demmer says.

There are 12.7 million people in Illinois, and less than half of one percent make up Lee and Ogle Counties.

"What's going on in Rockford is a lot different than what's going on in Rochelle and Dixon so, we're hoping to work with the Governor's office and State Representative Tom Demmer in a plan, in a very measured, responsible plan, to begin reopening," Langloss explains.

Lee and Ogle County officials hope the plan serves the state as a template for other small communities. Rep. Demmer says the plan has been worked on by a number of people.

"We tried to take a broad approach here, so we have local community leaders, county health department officials, first responders, and healthcare and hospital providers," Demmer explains.

The biggest difference from the Governor's plan is the emphasis on reopening small businesses before the end of the current "stay-at-home" order.

"So we're talking about Main Street businesses, mom and pop shops, that generally don't have more than five people in there," Langloss says.

Langloss says the plan wouldn't sacrifice people's safety either because businesses must abide by the requirements listed above, among others.

"We want to let the data and information about the number of cases we see, the local healthcare capacity, those things should guide and inform our decisions," Demmer says.

Rep. Demmer plans to meet with Gov. Pritzker this week to discuss the plan. The counties say they won't implement it without his approval. But Demmer hopes the Governor gives the green-light to reopen small businesses prior to May 29th.

Richard Bodee

Richard Bodee is a reporter at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team in June 2019 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

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