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Two McHenry County judges deny separate lawsuits seeking restraining order against Pritzker’s indoor dining ban

Woods Creek Tavern in Lake in the Hills is one of many restaurants that joined a lawsuit seeking to be exempt from the indoor dining ban. | Photo: Google Street View.

Two McHenry County judges have denied two separate lawsuits filed on behalf of McHenry County restaurants who were seeking a restraining order on Gov. Pritzker’s indoor dining ban.

The first lawsuit was filed on Thursday by John Dickson of the Dickson Law Group in Crystal Lake on behalf of 37 restaurants and bars in McHenry County.

The suit named Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health and McHenry County Department of Health as defendants.

It was seeking to keep the 37 restaurants and bars open because Dickson claimed that Pritzker’s executive order powers for the pandemic expired in April.

Dickson also filed an emergency petition for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the newest mitigation efforts banning indoor dining.

McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer denied Dickson’s restraining order petition because he believed that Pritzker’s mitigation orders were based on new facts and not an extension of his original executive order.

“As such, the order is not merely an extension of the original one, but essentially a new one based on new conditions related to the increased positivity rate,” Meyer said.

“The court finds that the Governor’s executive order 2020-65 was within the authority granted under 20 ILCS 3305/7 and accordingly finds that the plaintiffs have not established a likelihood of success on the petition for a temporary restraining order and same must be denied,” he added.

A second lawsuit filed by Lake in the Hills attorney Troy Owens was denied a restraining order against Pritzker’s mitigation orders on Friday.

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The suit, which argued Pritzker’s emergency order expired in April and he does not have authority to impose restrictions on dining, was filed on Thursday on behalf of five McHenry County restaurants and bars.

McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel denied the request on Friday and said that Pritzker has the authority to issue subsequent disaster proclamations.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Wednesday that indoor service at bars and restaurants would be banned starting at 12:01 a.m. October 31 in Lake and McHenry counties.

Pritzker said that Region 9, which includes Lake and McHenry counties, had seen a 7-day positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days. COVID-related hospital admissions have increased, now three times as high as September and five times as high as June.

Public gatherings are reduced to 25 people and indoor dining and indoor bar service is closed. Outdoor service along with takeout, delivery and drive-through service remains open.

Pritzker said that the resurgence mitigations aim to cut down some of the high-risk activities “until we bring down the positivity rate.”

“I know this virus is hard on everyone. But this battle isn’t going away by itself,” Pritzker said in a statement.

“We have to manage our way through it with the tools we have available to us. And there are many of those tools that nearly everyone in our state has available to join the fight,” he added.


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