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10 local businesses ordered to ‘close until further notice’ for violating COVID-19 mitigations

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Winnebago County Coronavirus 2

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX) — Multiple businesses in Winnebago County have been issued notices to close until further notice for not following COVID-19 guidelines.

The Winnebago County Health Department provided an update on their website on Wednesday.

Ten businesses in the county were issued notices to close until further notice for violating the state's COVID-19 guidelines.

According to the health department's website, the businesses were issued the notices on Nov. 13. Here's what the health department said regarding the closure notice:

Establishment has been issued closure notices and shows no intension to comply with Executive Order

Here's a look at the 10 businesses:

  • Baseball Tap, 202 Walnut St., Cherry Valley
  • Neighbors Bar & Grill, 7745 Forest Hills Rd., Loves Park
  • Fozzy's Bar & Grill, 6246 E Riverside Blvd., Loves Par
  • Neli's Family Restaurant, 1055 Gardner St., South Beloit
  • Casey Pub, 307 N Alpine Rd., Loves Park
  • The Filling Station, 6259 11th St. in Rockford
  • Hoffman House, 7550 E. State St., Rockford
  • R.B.I's, 3870 N Perryville Rd., Rockford
  • Waffle Shop, 6106 E Riverside Blvd., Loves Park
  • Opsahl's Tavern, 3301 11th St. in Rockford

All of the 10 businesses had been flagged several times for not complying to the state's guidelines.

The health department is within its legal right to issue such notices, per state statute which gives supreme authority to the health department. It states, "[Health departments] may order a place to be closed and made off limits to the public on an immediate basis without prior consent or court order if, in the reasonable judgment of the Department, immediate action is required to protect the public from a dangerously contagious or infectious disease."

One of the businesses, Casey's Pub & Grill, announced on Sunday they'll be closing until further notice in a Facebook post, saying in part: "We have been trying to fight this decision but now feel that with where everything stands in the city that we do not feel comfortable taking any chances with anyone."

In total, the health department has flagged 85 establishments at least one time for not following the state's guidelines. Once flagged, the business has a chance to come into compliance. If not, the health the department then issues another notice.

The final notice of closure was given after the health department issued seven notices of closure, one every 48 hours, for two weeks. Along with the notice of closure, came a letter from the health department saying it would not be back unless there was a COVID-19 outbreak or a foodborne illness.

"I want these business owners to understand, you're hurting our community," said Dr. Martell. "We have the highest infection rates in the region, we are sandwiched between two other states with high infection and we're looking at a very bleak holiday season."

Also in the letter, a warning that it was also sent to the Illinois Attorney General, the IDPH and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Plus, each business and letter were sent to the Winnebago County State's Attorney.

By sending the notices to those entities, Dr. Martell says they can step in and force closure, something WCHD cannot do.

13 WREX reached out to the Winnebago County State's Attorney's office to see if it will enforce closure notices, we have not heard back.

Dr. Martell says her office has pulled every lever it can to stop the spread and close businesses.

"We're following up and following our compliance orders. We are doing everything we can as the local health department," she added.

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Andrew Carrigan

Andy Carrigan is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team as a photographer in 2016 after graduating from Northern Illinois University.

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