ROCKFORD — Mayor Tom McNamara is urging Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker to loosen restrictions that are suffocating small businesses struggling through the coronavirus pandemic "while larger ’big box’ stores thrive."

McNamara said he sent a letter to the governor last week urging him to allow small businesses to reopen, but with precautions in place.

"While the stay-at-home order has been difficult for everyone, many small businesses have been devastated by it," McNamara said. "The city team put together a proposal outlining what we believe is a more fair and equitable plan for all businesses."

The proposal calls for allowing curbside pickup and phone orders to be allowed for all small businesses provided precautions are taken. The precautions — which were developed by the city in consultation with the Winnebago County Health Department — call for:

• Employees’ temperature to be checked at the start and in the middle of every shift.

• All employees to wear masks and practice social distancing.

• All curbside transactions to be contact free.

• Customers to remain in their cars during transactions, and employees to wear full protective equipment.

The letter also calls for the opening of all garden centers under similar conditions. Garden centers would be required to limit the number of customers inside at one time.

"By allowing big box stores to keep their non-essential departments open for business, while requiring standalone stores to close, we are encouraging more people to congregate at a select few stores," McNamara wrote. "Implementing the minor changes set forth above will ensure that public health remains a top priority, while beginning the process of reopening small businesses safely for employees and customers."

Pritzker told reporters Tuesday that the state’s COVID-19 peak could come in mid-May and that he is examining potential changes to the current stay-at-home order.

Jeff Kolkey:; @jeffkolkey

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