Geneva won't issue tickets for disobeying Pritzker's COVID-19 orders

  • FoxFire Restaurant in Geneva with signs stating what it expects customers to do regarding COVID-19 precautions. The Geneva City Council has decided not to ticket people and businesses that don't obey Gov. J.B. Pritzker's executive orders.

      FoxFire Restaurant in Geneva with signs stating what it expects customers to do regarding COVID-19 precautions. The Geneva City Council has decided not to ticket people and businesses that don't obey Gov. J.B. Pritzker's executive orders. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Gabriel Kaven

    Gabriel Kaven

 
 
Updated 11/24/2020 1:51 PM

Geneva residents and businesses won't be punished by the city for disobeying Gov. J.B. Pritzker's COVID-19 health orders.

Aldermen on Monday rejected a proposal to have police officers issue tickets with fines of up to $500.

 

"I'm concerned about creating a law to enforce something that is supposed to be enforced by the state or health authorities," Alderman Gabriel Kaven said.

Kaven said residents who don't want risk a fine for dining indoors at a restaurant or shopping without wearing a mask could easily drive to St. Charles, Elburn or Batavia to do so.

"I don't know how much that stops the spread," he said.

Kaven asked if Geneva police could handle an increase in calls if more people started complaining about rule breakers.

Chief Eric Passarelli said officers already are required to investigate complaints. Like any other call to 911, response is prioritized based on severity and resources, according to Passarelli. He said they follow the city's 3Rs policy, which is to respond to alleged violations, remind the person or business of the state's regulations, and relay information about the complaint to the health department or state's attorney's office.

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Aldermen Craig Maladra and Richard Marks said they would prefer to incentivize businesses to obey the orders. Alderman Dean Kilburg suggested the Geneva Chamber of Commerce or another group organize a campaign to encourage people to patronize restaurants by ordering takeout.

The owners of the Patten House and FoxFire restaurants spoke against the ticketing proposal.

If the indoor-dining ban continues much longer, "I'll have to blacken (close) the Patten House," owner Nancy Leyton said. "We want to do the right part, but also want to pay bills." She said Geneva is built on small businesses such as hers and if independent small businesses close, the town would lose the unique character that draws shoppers and diners from out of town.

KC. Gulbro, co-owner of FoxFire Restaurant, told aldermen he offered takeout during the spring shutdown. FoxFire made 80% less than normal, he said. FoxFire is fighting the governor's ban in court, and has kept its dining room open.

"How many paychecks have you been out? How has your life been affected?" Matt Belding, owner of Belding Barbering salon, asked the mayor and council. "Why are you coming after us for money that we don't have?"

Only aldermen Becky Hruby, Robert Swanson and Tara Burghart supported the ticketing idea.

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