Oak Park’s village employees eat lunch and, says Village Manager Cara Pavlicek, when they are picking up a sandwich they are also observing if local restaurants are following the state directive against any form of indoor dining or drinking due to the sharp spike in COVID.

In an interview Monday, Pavlicek said village staff is acting on complaints from citizens and their own observations to enforce Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s ban on indoor dining and drinking. 

“We still believe in progressive discipline” for violators, said Pavlicek. That process begins with visits from restaurant inspectors or police commanders informing owners of violations. A warning can follow and then a formal “cease and desist” order from the village. Pavlicek said the interim public health director has authority to close restaurants entirely until they agree to comply.

“We are clear that we have this authority,” she said. 

The village’s legal department has also responded to a local restaurant, which said it had found a “loophole” in the state’s action allowing it to book private parties indoors. Pavlicek said there is no such loophole.

She added that the village understands the dire circumstances local restaurants face. “Restaurants are in a terrible position,” she said. The village wants to work to boost curbside pickup, to extend outdoor dining as long as might be tolerable with colder weather. 

But she said outdoor tents with flaps down on four sides does not pass muster. Eating indoors is absolutely unsafe, she said, and “our patience is running out” with restaurants not following the rules. She pointed to the “exponential growth” of COVID cases in Oak Park over the past 30 days. 

“It is just shocking.” 

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