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Protesters Demand Pritzker 'Open Illinois' Despite Coronavirus

  • May 23, 2020
  • News
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SPRINGFIELD, IL — For the second time this week, a group of demonstrators gathered in Springfield to demand the reopening of Illinois and an end to the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home order, which is scheduled to expire April 30 but will likely be extended.

Similar demonstrations were held in other states, including Maryland, California, Colorado and Ohio.

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Meanwhile, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he is gathering more data as he decides whether to extend the order. In neighboring Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers has extended a similar stay-at-home order until May 26.

A group of protesters Sunday shouted “Open Illinois” at the steps of the Lincoln Statue as part of a national “Operation Gridlock” movement, according to ABC Chicago.

Kenny Arnold was there Sunday and organized a similar event that drew five demonstrators Thursday, according to ABC.

5 Protesters Gather In Springfield Frustrated With Statewide Stay-At-Home Order

“I think our government is pushing too far,” he told Center Square during the Thursday event. “It’s not just about people’s jobs; it is children being banned from parks and playgrounds,” he said. “People not being able to go to parks and recreational facilities. Being told what is and isn’t essential for purchase at stores. It’s about Pritzker and other governors overreacting.”

A counterprotester wearing a face mask stood among the group in Springfield on Sunday holding a sign that said, “These guys are idiots,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, told ABC that restaurant sales are down 80 percent since the shutdown began in March. Other local businesses have also been hit hard.

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As of Sunday, Illinois’ coronavirus case count was over 30,000, but the number of additional deaths dropped Sunday after several grim days. A total of 1,290 Illinois residents have died as a result of the coronavirus.

Pritzker addressed the calls for states to reopen.

“I think I would say to all of those folks who legitimately want to get back to work that I do, too. I want people to get back to work, I want people to go back to school,” he said. “And I want us to have a great summer. And so I’m looking for all of the best ways to make that happen. But we’re in the middle of an emergency, a pandemic.”

On Friday, Pritzker announced that Illinois schools will remain closed to in-person instruction through the end of the academic year, a decision that impacts more than 2 million students.

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