ST. CHARLES – St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina said he is hopeful the Arcada Theatre and other entertainment venues in the city will be able to reopen in the next few months as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be relaxed.
The 900-seat Arcada Theatre had to close in mid-March as part of a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. During a Zoom conversation with St. Charles Chamber of Commerce members on Thursday, Rogina was asked when he thought it would be safe for the Arcada Theatre to reopen.
"I've given that a lot of thought, because it's such an important economic engine downtown," Rogina said. "It would be my hope that we're going to see a limited capacity in our theaters by the end of the summer."
The region is moving into phase three of Gov. JB Pritzker's plan to reopen the state in a phased approach. Gatherings of 50 people or fewer isn't allowed until phase four of the plan. In phase five of the plan – the last phase – conventions, festivals and large events can take place.
He doesn't see the Arcada Theatre or Charlestowne 18 movie theater being able to operate at full capacity for "a while."
He also discussed the stay-at-home order, which has shuttered businesses and schools across the state. Rogina noted the majority of residents and businesses have been abiding by the stay-at-home order.
"When you shut down a $21 trillion economy across the United States, there's going to be some anxiety, there's going to be some backlash, there's going to be a lot of conversation about what's right and what's wrong," he said. "In saying that, I'm very pleased that I am the mayor in a community where an immense amount of cooperation and support exists."
Rogina railed against Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain's recent comments that his deputies would not take enforcement action against anyone or any entities for violating Pritzker's stay-at-home order without a judicial order.
"There are a variety of views regarding executive orders," he said. "Some people have said to me the executive orders mean nothing. Some people have said to me the executive orders are unconstitutional. I'm not here to say they are or aren't...An executive order is the law until it's overturned in court, like we saw in Wisconsin. And so I take great exception to our Kane County sheriff coming out publicly to say he, as the chief police officer of the county, is going to defy the governor's orders. That would be like me telling the citizens of St. Charles that our police are not going to arrest somebody for breaking a particular law for which an arrest is required."
At the same time, Rogina said there is no desire for the St. Charles Police Department to punish those not following the stay-at-home order.
"We have issued no fines during this pandemic," he said. "Our police are going to abide by the governor's orders."
Rogina was asked about the situation surrounding Eddie Gaedel Pub and Grill in Elburn, which recently reopened its doors for indoor dining despite the current ban on restaurants and bars from allowing patrons indoors. He was asked what would happen to a St. Charles business that tried to do the same thing.
Bars and restaurants would be able to reopen with capacity limits and Illinois Department of Public Health approved safety guidance in phase four of the governor's plan.
"Right now, we don't have the opportunity to go inside," Rogina said. "If that was to happen, we would refer it to the police and go from there."
Rogina was also asked if he thought a hotline number should be set up for employees who feel their place of employment is not doing enough to keep them safe.
"Any employee here in the city is always in a position if they feel they're being compromised in any way by an employer," Rogina said. "They can report that to our staff or the police or my office."
He said every business in the city needs to do its best to protect the health of its employees.
"That's going to be the key to getting us moving again," Rogina said.
For more local news, visit Kane County Chronicle at https://www.kcchronicle.com.