Illinois restaurants visited by police for defying state’s order against in-door dining

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NEW ATHENS, Ill. – Illinois bars and restaurants who are defying Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Wednesday order of no indoor dining are getting visits from police. A bar owner in New Athens says she’s had enough and is rebelling against the COVID restrictions.

New Athens, Illinois in southern St. Clair County is a town of about 2,000 people who live for their independence and freedom; but then came the COVID restrictions.

“You couldn’t go to bars, you can’t dance, you can’t congregate. First it was 10 people, then it was 50, then it was back to 10. Nobody really knows what to do,” said Karla Blades, owner of the Nail Bar.

When Pritzker brought back restrictions against indoor dining on Wednesday, Blades rebelled and stayed open. Within hours, she was visited by New Athens police.

“The police have been here two times so far. (Wednesday) they came twice,” she said. “I mean, I’m only operating at about 20 to 25 percent of what I did last year. I’m a single parent. This is my only income. Pritzker changes everything from one day to the next and I think it’s ridiculous. I think he’s overstepping his power.”

Police told her to disperse the crowd. Blades didn’t and she now expects a visit from Illinois State Police. She calls the state’s action confusing by allowing customers to play slot machines in her bar but not have food or drink while gambling

“That makes no sense! If a box store is open, if a Walmart is open, and a gas station is open, why are we not open?” she said.

Consequences may be coming but Blades is planning future events.

“We have a Halloween party Friday and I welcome everybody and I hope everybody comes,” she said.

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