It has been a tough time for Jasper County COVID-19 Advisory Team to reopen the local economy quicker than the statewide Restore Illinois schedule.

Mayor Mark Bolander said no alternate plans will be considered at this time, but the Advisory Team is not throwing in the towel. The team includes representatives from different government bodies, agencies and the business community.

“We continue to work with a group of Southern and Central Illinois county health departments to open our areas as quickly and safely as possible,” Bolander stated during the May 19 city council meeting. “We are moving the needle.”

Bolander said the Advisory Team recommends local businesses or organizations preparing to reopen can call the Jasper County Health Department to discuss how it can be done safely. That can help reduce some of the confusion on reopening.

Gov. JB Pritzker did offer some relief to Illinois retail business owners by allowing all to welcome customers indoors with adherence to social distancing and capacity limits are followed as detailed in Phase 3 of Restore Illinois. Restaurants and bars can also welcome customers in outdoor serving areas and service businesses like beauty salons, barbershops, nail salons and others can reopen by following safety rules against COVID-19. These changes, including the reopening of Newton Lake, take effect on Friday, May 29 across the state.

In addition, Mayor Bolander strongly advised business owners to check with their insurance carriers, licensing agency and legal counsel when making plans for reopening. That could prevent liability issues or penalties after reopening.

Acknowledging that the COVID-19 shutdown is frustrating, he recommended the county be patient on reopening. “We don’t want to go rogue here,” he said.