SPRINGFIELD -- House Republicans are calling for -- but not expecting -- a vote to be taken on Gov. JB Pritzker's reopening plan this week while lawmakers are in Springfield for an abbreviated legislative session.
Before the legislative session began Wednesday for the first time since March, four downstate members of the House GOP caucus hosted a video news conference arguing for more input from the General Assembly -- a coequal branch of state government to executive authority. They also argued for a more regionalized approach.
"We are simply not facing the same challenges in most communities today as they are in Chicago, and yet decisions about reopening our businesses and communities are being made by the same single source -- Governor Pritzker," Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said. "The governor needs to begin allowing for local input today, by agreeing to let members of the General Assembly weigh in on behalf of our communities and make needed changes to his reopening plan."
The news conference concluded shortly before an estimated 150 Reopen Illinois protesters gathered outside of the Bank of Springfield convention center where House lawmakers would take part in the legislative session.
Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan divides the state into four broad regions and considers health care and disease spread metrics when deciding whether each of the regions will be allowed to move into one the next of five reopening phases.
The whole state is in the second phase of reopening until at least May 29, when all are on pace to progress, per the plan. The current "Flattening" phase allows residents to visit golf courses and state parks, retail shops to deliver orders placed remotely, and medical centers to allow elective surgeries to resume.
The next phase, called "Recovery," would allow offices, salons, barbershops and manufacturers to reopen with some capacity restrictions.
"Basically any store that wasn't already opened as an essential business can choose to open their doors to in-person shopping with (Illinois Department of Public Health) safety precautions and capacity limits in place," Pritzker said of the next phase at his Wednesday briefing.
Bars and restaurants, however, would not be allowed to reopen for inside dining, even with capacity restrictions, until Phase 4 in the indefinite future. But Pritzker announced Wednesday that those facilities would be allowed to open for outdoor dining under the next phase, provided they follow social distancing guidelines. He said his office, in the coming days, will offer guidance as to how other outdoor recreation activities can reopen safely.
Several regions and local officials have proposed subregional or hastened reopening schedules that would allow local businesses to open up more quickly, including Peoria County in Spain's district.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, also introduced Senate Bill 3993 this week, backed by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, directing IDPH to establish the Safe Place of Business protocols on or before May 30 to give guidance to all businesses and allowing them to reopen once protocols are met.