DeKalb County businesses sue Pritzker over indoor dining restrictions

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Patrick Murphy

Lincoln Inn at Faranda’s

Kierra Frazier, News Editor

DeKALB — Seven DeKalb County business owners are suing Governor J.B. Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, over new restrictions to shut down indoor dining that started Saturday. 

Businesses included in the lawsuit are Fatty’s Pub & Grill in DeKalb, the Lincoln Inn in DeKalb, Faranda’s Banquet Center in DeKalb, the Junction Eating Place in DeKalb, Ellwood Steakhouse in DeKalb, El Jimador Mexican Grill in DeKalb, MVP Sports Bar in Sycamore and Remington Gastropub in Malta. 

In the lawsuit filed Thursday, business owners state that the governor’s actions to prohibit indoor seating and other mitigation efforts are “unlawful” and “unconstitutional.” Owners said the efforts were unlawful because they defy the County’s Emergency Management Act and violates Equal Protection of the Law under the Illinois Constitution, according to the lawsuit.

The owners also argue that the restrictions put in place Saturday are unfairly directed to bars and restaurants and DeKalb shouldn’t be included in region one because it’s based on geography and not science, according to the lawsuit. 

On Sept. 29, Pritzker announced that region one was to undergo “resurgence mitigations” following an increase in test positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days. DeKalb County, however, had a positivity rate of 6.8%, 7.2% and 6.9% for three consecutive days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health

Region one includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties.

The owners also requested a temporary restraining order to block the new restrictions put in place for DeKalb County. Judge Bradley Waller denied the request Friday, according to court documents. 

Bill McMahon, owner of the Lincoln Inn and Faranda’s Banquet Center, said he’s disappointed in Pritzker’s decision to place more restrictions for DeKalb County and Judge Waller’s decision to deny the request. 

“This is a dire situation for a lot of small businesses in Illinois and in our region in particular,” McMahon said. “For a lot of us, this will be the final nail in the coffin, you’re gonna see a lot of businesses not able to open up again.” 

McMahon said the Lincoln Inn will still offer curbside pick-up and patio dining to do the best they can to take care of customers. 

“I’m pretty emotional about this,” he said. “I think that the government is making a mistake and they are going to very, very much cripple business in Illinois.”