The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said they will not be enforcing the state’s restriction of no more than two people on a boat as some Illinois residents question the governor’s rule in his new executive order.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s revised stay-at-home order went into effect May 1 with modified guidelines, including some businesses like animal grooming and gardening centers being allowed to reopen.
Among the revised order was that fishing, boating and golf are now permitted while following the guidelines of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
Guidelines released by the DCEO said that fishing and boating is limited to groups of two or less.
Pritzker was asked at his Saturday COVID-19 news briefing if the rule applied to those who were related or living in the same household. He said that the rule applies to everyone even if they live together, but it will be up to local agencies to enforce it.
“Since the Executive Order does not explicitly state the number of individuals allowed on a boat and we have not received specific enforcement guidance from DCEO, at this time we cannot enforce the two-person per boat rule,” Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.
He said that the sheriff’s office’s function on the waterways is maintaining the safety of its users and enforcing usual laws.
“We ask boaters to use their best judgement, be responsible, and operate carefully. In addition to normal maritime enforcement, the temporary guidelines issued by the Fox Waterway Agency will be enforced,” Covelli said.
Those temporary guidelines issued by the Fox Waterway Agency include a ban on tying boats together and a rule that anchored boats must maintain at least ten feet of distance.
Covelli said the sheriff’s office wants to remind the community that congregating in groups of more than ten or with non-family members could be a violation of the governor’s executive order.
The Illinois Conservation Police, who also patrols the waterways in the state, has not commented on the issue.
State Rep. Tom Weber, of Lake Villa, said that the new boating restrictions are “very frustrating to me and to residents of our district.”
“If you shelter in place together, why can’t you go out in your boat as a family together? This is a great way for people to be able to escape, enjoy nature and get some fresh air,” he said.
A protest on Saturday in Fox Lake drew several dozen area residents who were frustrated with the boating rule and the state’s stay-at-home restrictions.
Fox Waterway Agency Executive Director said that his agency, which oversees the Chain O’Lakes and Fox River, is monitoring the situation closely and seeking additional clarification as Memorial Day weekend approaches.