File Photo | Lake County Sheriff John D. Idleburg.

Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg has released a statement about COVID-19 and the sheriff’s office’s decision to not enforce the governor’s two-person per boat limit.

On Tuesday, Lake and McHenry County Scanner reported that the sheriff’s office said they will not be enforcing the state’s restriction of no more than two people on a boat after the governor’s newest stay-at-home order went into effect on May 1.

The following is a community message from Sheriff Idleburg:

“I want to take a brief moment to thank you, Lake County. I’ve seen this community come together over the past six weeks more than I ever have before. We’ve seen you supporting and praising essential workers, we’ve seen you donating goods to foodbanks, we’ve seen you supporting local business by utilizing drive-through services, we’ve seen you staying home to flatten the curve, we’ve seen you ‘virtually’ being there for one another – and I have to say, it is inspiring.

This is a crisis we have never experienced before in our lifetime. To the family and friends of someone who has lost their life to COVID-19 – you have our deepest condolences. For those who’ve contracted the virus – we wish you a speedy recovery and look forward to you regaining your health. To struggling business owners and those who have been furloughed or laid off – we feel your pain and we are so hopeful we will be able to rebuild quickly.

There has been a lot of talk about the governor’s executive order and the recent extension of the order. It is important we do everything in our power to keep this virus from continuing to spread at fast rates. We really need to keep working together to ensure our healthcare providers are not overwhelmed with surges of patients.

Health experts have continued to tell us to exercise and get outside to get fresh air. As of May 1, 2020, there have been some changes to the governor’s executive order, and some loosening of previous restrictions. One of those items pertains to recreational boating. That said, there have been many questions surrounding boating and how many people can be in a boat. The latest governor’s executive order defers boating guidelines to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). DCEO subsequently issued guidance stating boating is permitted in groups of no more than two persons.

I directed my staff to seek further guidance from state officials and DCEO on enforcement provisions of this, and whether or not it applies to families who reside together. All of the responses we’ve received from our inquiries indicate local law-enforcement has full discretion on enforcement of the boating provision. Therefore, we are exercising this discretion and I’ve instructed my staff not to issue citations to families who are utilizing our Lake County waterways.

It is my hope people will not take advantage of this by inviting friends and non-family-members on their boat. This is not the time to take to the waterways to party. It is important for everyone to remember, abuses of our discretion or violating the temporary regulations issued by the Fox Waterway Agency could result in the Chain O’Lakes being closed. I can’t emphasize this enough – please be responsible, use good judgement, and follow all maritime laws when enjoying our waterways.

We ask that you continue following social distancing guidance, and all other guidance set forth in the governor’s executive order, so we can continue moving toward reopening our region.

Please stay strong, Lake County. We will remain here for you. Together, we will get through this.”