METROPOLIS – On Thursday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced a 30-day extension of a disaster declaration beginning May 1 that includes a continuation of most stay-at-home orders. However, the governor also indicated changes are coming to the new order that will allow some Southern Illinois businesses shuttered by the current ‘non-essential’ business declaration to resume some operations.
On Wednesday, Rep. Windhorst joined a Zoom video conference with Southern Illinois legislators and members of the Southern Illinois Mayors Association to draft a press release outlining priorities for desired changes to any upcoming orders. That press release was issued Thursday morning in cooperation with Senators Dale Fowler and Paul Schimpf and State Representatives Terri Bryant and Dave Severin.
"On behalf of the many constituents that I have heard from, I have voiced concerns for our struggling hospitals, health care professionals, churches, schools and students, and retail establishments,” Windhorst said. “Our hospitals have been laying off staff and not performing preventative health care screenings or procedures. I have been concerned about the long-term impact of these orders on the mental and physical health of our citizens. Today's extension announcement was expected, but I do appreciate that some of the changes we have asked for are coming.”
Windhorst says he has been in favor of a regional approach to reducing restrictions currently in place.
"Among many other items, I have advocated for a regional approach to reopening our economy," Windhorst said. "I hope we can have those concerns addressed before the governor's order goes into effect on May 1. Southern Illinois is a very different place than other parts of the state."
Under the new disaster declaration that takes effect May 1, the following state parks will reopen with social distancing rules in place: Fort Massac State Park, Giant City State Park, Stephen A Forbes State Recreation Area, Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area.
"I am pleased that our state parks are going to reopen in some capacity," Windhorst said. "Also, greenhouses, garden centers , and nurseries may reopen as essential businesses on May 1 as long as social distancing can be maintained,” Windhorst said. "The governor also indicated that his orders will require the use of masks or other PPE when people are unable to maintain social distancing. Also, animal grooming services may reopen observing the same rules. We need further clarification on some very key items that were not covered today including accommodations for religious services. That information will hopefully be forthcoming in the week ahead, and I will be working to get that information out to the people I represent."