October 18, 2021

'If you are asking us to shut down our business, we will not comply': Route 34 Pub & Grub open for business in Sandwich

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SANDWICH – A Sandwich business listed on the DeKalb County Health Department's website as defying the indoor dining ban mandated due to the COVID-19 pandemic announced Monday they've retained legal counsel and will remain open.

Route 34 Pub & Grub, 1201 E. Church St. in Sandwich posted a public notice on social media Monday evening letting patrons know they're open for business, and if the health department tries to shut them down, they could pursue legal action.

"Please be advised that should the health department try and close our facility on an immediate basis, without specific facts regarding an outbreak upon our premises, or if any of our licensure is wrongfully threatened, we may pursue legal damages against the overarching government agency as well as the specific government employee who takes any such unlawful action," the notice states.

The restaurant received an educational letter reminding them of mandated protocols for failure to suspend indoor service Oct. 20, documents show. If they do not comply, health department mitigation enforcement protocol includes further reminders, a letter from IDPH, in-person inspections, possible revocation of their food permit or legal action through the DeKalb County State's Attorney's office.

The notice also says Route 34 is taking steps to make safety its no. 1 priority.

"Our establishment is presently open and we are taking extra precautionary measures to make sure that our employees, customers, or anyone that enters our building understands that safety is our #1 Priority!" the post reads. "As currently required by IDPH Rule 690.50, please keep your face mask on while waling inside the premises at all times."

The restaurant has also retained the counsel of Highland-based lawyer Thomas DeVore, of Silver Lake Group, a law firm down state east of St. Louis.

DeVore did not immediately respond to request for comment, nor did anyone from Route 34.

The notice also includes a direct address to "Government Agencies."

"Thank you and we understand you're just doing your job, as we are also doing our job, by providing a safe environment for our employees and patrons," the post reads.

In a citation of the Illinois Departing of Public Health's legal statute 20 ILCS 2305(c), the public notice includes text from the law which says no establishment can be ordered to close or made off limits to the public except with the consent of the owner or prior order of court, however exceptions can be made in the event the public needs to be protected "from a dangerously contagious or infectious disease."

The county health department on Oct. 23 began publishing a list of restaurants and bars found to be defying the indoor dining ban.

In an interview with the Daily Chronicle last week, local health officials said the reason for publishing the list wasn't punitive, but rather to address the large amount of public interest in the topic.

As restrictions became tighter in the region, calls for proof of data that supports mitigations, or cases directly connected to the restaurant industry have also ramped up. However, local health officials have said it may not be easy to produce, though continue to maintain that community spread is rampant locally.

Cases of COVID-19 are record-breaking in DeKalb County, with 200 more reported this weekend, and marks a fall surge being felt across the state and country.

Mitigations mandated by Gov. JB Pritzker and the IDPH began Oct. 3 as a result of rising cases, with restaurants and bars bearing the brunt of strict shutdowns in the geographical health area known as Region 1. Since Oct. 3, bars and restaurants have been prohibited from allowing indoor dining, and are also limited to groups of 10 or fewer, with tables limited to six or fewer for outdoor dining.

Pushback from local business owners has been strong across both DeKalb County and the region, with many declaring further shutdowns would mean the end of their livelihoods.