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McHenry County Restaurants Continue To Defy Indoor Dining Ban As Governor Says It Will Continue For Weeks

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Dining out in Illinois will continue to be off limits for at least the next few weeks, according to an announcement from Gov. JB Pritzker Monday. But some restaurants continue to flout the rules and get away with it. For example, in McHenry County, the risk of criminal charges just isn't there.

The state's attorney in McHenry County feels the governor has overstepped and the legislature has underdelivered, creating what he calls a "dangerous combination." He won't be enforcing the ban.

Little attention is paid to Illinois' indoor dining ban at Around the Clock restaurant in Crystal Lake.

"It makes me really mad," said Matthew Mascolino.

He and his family are entering month nine of not going out due to preexisting conditions.

"It makes me really mad because they are not putting the public safety into consideration," he said. 

Through the Freedom of Information Act, CBS 2 obtained a list of dozens of McHenry County eateries that have violated rules.

Around the Clock allows indoor dining. At Niko's Red Mill Tavern in Woodstock inspectors saw indoor dining, no social distancing, and employees and patrons not wearing face coverings. At DC Cobb's in Woodstock some thing seen were patrons not wearing face masks, indoor dining and operation after 11 p.m.

These restaurants and eight more like them have been visited multiple times. Minimal improvements led to the cases being handed over to the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office.

Elsewhere in Illinois establishments have been issued misdemeanors for failing to comply.

That won't happen in McHenry, State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally says.

"We cannot in good conscience enforce the ban on indoor dining, which may result in hundreds of McHenry County businesses permanently being shuttered, without some definitive validation by the Legislature or courts of the Governor's continued use of 'emergency' powers," he wrote. 

CBS 2 asked the governor if that means his state police or state health inspectors may step up inspections in places like McHenry County.

"It isn't just up to state troopers, by the way, to enforce the law," he said. "That's the job of state's attorneys. That's the job of local law enforcement. That's the job of mayors and city councils and county executives and so on."

The McHenry County State's Attorney did not get back to CBS 2 for a request for an interview Monday, but the top administrator at the health department in McHenry County said despite the fact that the state's attorney won't be prosecuting, they will continue to take complaints, investigate and move it along for furth action.

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