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Grafton businesses prepare for looming Illinois mask mandate

"We need all of the businesses to be open and thriving for the town to work,” said Mary Jo Cote

GRAFTON, Ill. — Starting Monday a new mask mandate will take effect for all indoor places in Illinois, and that has a number of local business owners concerned the new rules could cut into their bottom line if they don't get creative.

Grafton, Illinois, may only have a population of 650 people but that quickly changes on the weekend.

"We have 25,000 people come into town,” said Mary Jo Cote.

"This is a melting pot,” said Kay Sonderegger. “It's a good time. Nobody ever comes here with a frowny face."

"We need all the visitors we can get,” said Cote.

It’s believed the mask mandate won’t impact larger venues like The Loading Dock that offer a vast amount of open-air seating.

"We will allow you to be free and not wear one,” said Kimberlyn Kirkman.

"Everybody is doing the social distancing thing having a good time waving to boats,” said Sonderegger.  “It's all good.”

Places like the Grafton Pub could quickly run into a problem with their indoor seating opportunities.

"Our building is small inside so we can't fit a lot of people,” said Cote.

"A lot of inside establishments are going to lose a lot of money,” said Bill Donius.

Mary Jo Cote, owner of Grafton Pub, says she’s going to get creative to keep the doors open.

"We need all of the businesses to be open and thriving for the town to work,” said Cote.

However, questions still remain as to whether they can get enough buy-in for that to work.

"I think it's a deterrent for people going out and having a good time,” said Donius.

"I think it gives you a false sense of security if you think that's all you need to do is show off the mask in public,” said Dr. Tinna King. “You've got to take precautions everywhere."

"If that's what I've got to do to have a good time so be it,” said Sonderegger.

In Madison County, which sits just south of Grafton, State’s Attorney

Just to the south of Grafton in Madison County the State's Attorney Tom Haine released a statement saying he isn't willing or able to enforce the mask mandate but he will prosecute people for trespassing or disorderly conduct if they refuse to leave a business for not wearing a mask.

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