IL Governor Pritzker ordered to produce evidence justifying COVID restaurant shutdowns

The Cook County Record:

The owners of a restaurant in suburban Geneva have secured a court order forcing the administration of Gov. JB Pritzker to produce scientific evidence he has claimed supported his decisions to order statewide shutdowns of indoor restaurant dining in the name of fighting COVID-19.

On Feb. 17, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow gave Pritzker’s administration until March 3 to begin disclosing to attorneys for the FoxFire restaurant “responsive information and documents” FoxFire had demanded as part of discovery in its lawsuit against the governor.

If Pritzker’s team continues to resist or slow-walk the rollout of that information, the judge indicated she would consider imposing sanctions on the state of Illinois, potentially including requiring the state to pay the legal bills the restaurant has racked up trying to persuade Pritzker to turn over the information.

The decision comes as the latest step in a lengthy court fight initiated by the owners of FoxFire last fall, when Pritzker again ordered indoor dining and drinking shut down at restaurants and taverns throughout Illinois.

The renewed shutdown orders came amid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections across the state and the nation. However, as COVID activity continued to decline in January, Pritzker eased back those restrictions.

According to Illinois state public health data, Illinois hit its COVID activity peak in early November, before Pritzker issued the most recent restaurant and bar closure orders. COVID activity in the state has continued to decline ever since, shrinking at February’s close to the lowest levels recorded in Illinois since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic one year ago.

FoxFire’s owners were among a number of restaurant owners from throughout the suburbs and elsewhere in Illinois to sue the governor over those closures, asserting he overstepped the bounds of his authority in essentially shuttering eateries without any recourse, months after he had first assumed emergency powers when he declared a statewide disaster in response to COVID-19 in March 2020.

More at The Cook County Record

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