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New Rules For Springfield Businesses Open During Stay-At-Home Order

Tape at a Walgreens in Springfield shows customers where to stand to stay 6 feet apart.
Mary Hansen
NPR Illinois
Tape at a Walgreens in Springfield shows customers where to stand to stay 6 feet apart.

Many businesses are closed during Illinois' stay-at-home order. But grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses in Springfield that can remain open must comply with new rules aimed at enforcing social distancing, or face a fine.

With his fourth emergency executive order, Mayor Jim Langfelder is directing stores to post signs encouraging customers to wear a facemask, only allow two family members to shop at one time, and not bring their children in the store.

Other rules include having a written policy for customers to follow and employees to enforce social distancing guidelines. The Springfield Fire Department will investigate complaints of businesses not following these rules. After a written warning, the department can fine a business $500 a day.

Langfelder said compliance will be complaint driven.

“The intent is not to issue citations and get money,” he said. “The intent is to keep the public safe as much as possible.”

The rules come after some city officials said they have received complaints about overcrowding in some stores. A copy of the order is on the city's website.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association and Gov. J.B. Pritzker encouraged stores to institute similar precautions to protect customers and employees.

“We understand the coronavirus is here within our community and our priority is to contain the spread in order to flatten the curve,” Langfelder said in a news release. “People can have the virus but may not be showing symptoms. This is why we need to institute measures that best keep ourselves and those we may cross paths (safely).”

The new rules follow the announcement that Springfield police can issue fines for not complying with the stay-at-home order. It's the mayor's fourth executive order since his emergency declaration.

“The more that people follow the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended coronavirus guidelines, especially social distancing and staying home, the sooner we can stop the escalation of coronavirus cases and deaths,” said Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne in a news release. “We all need to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy.”

For questions, contact the Springfield Fire Department’s Fire Safety Division at 217-789-2170.

The same order will also provide some relief for Springfield residents behind on payments for garbage service. The order prohibits waste haulers from cutting off service for not paying.

“This is no different than utilities being interrupted,” Langfelder said. City-owned utility City Water, Light and Power paused electricity and water shut-offs last month. “This is a service that is essential.”

The mayor cites potential public health risks to residents who aren’t having their garbage picked up. The reprieve will last until Illinois’ emergency declaration is lifted.

This post will be updated.

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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