Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion said more people are going outside in groups as the weather warms up. But he's asking people to adhere the governor's stay-at-home-order.
"We know that's tempting for people to want to go outside and do things like play basketball and football. But we're asking you to make the choices that are good for the community, and each other," Marion said. "The goal for law enforcement is compliance. We don't want to take enforcement action, but we will if we must."
The Peoria Park District and Washington Park District took down basketball hoops this week to discourage those team sports. Parks are still open for solitary activities like walking or hiking.
Marion said most of the time, officers will just ask groups to break up. If they refuse, he said they'll document the incident and forward it to the state's attorney for review. In serious cases or with repeat offenders, Marion warns police can arrest people for disorderly conduct, obstructing justice, or reckless conduct.
Marion said residents should call the police non-emergency number at (309)673-4521 to report large gatherings.
Faking coronavirus could have serious consequences
Marion also said somebody at the Aldi store on University coughed on another person and pretended to have COVID-19 as a joke on Wednesday in a video that circulated on social media. That person now faces criminal charges.
"It appears at this time that there will be additional charges coming forward," the chief said. "So in the future, when we have those cases, we will address them and have them taken very serious."
Holy Week church services to be online-only
Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell said there won't be any in-person church services this Easter.
The sheriff said his office is advising churches to host services virtually via an online platform. He says many places of worship have asked if they can have drive-up services in the parking lot - and the answer is "no."
"I never thought that we would have to be enforcing these types of rules," he said. "But they're necessary right now. Public safety and public health have one mission right now, and that's to prevent the spread and to save lives. And we have to take these drastic measures. We have to do these things."
A sheriff's deputy responded to a church service in Mapleton Wednesday for violating the 10-person limit on essential gatherings.
"This is going to hurt a lot of people, especially on a holy day. It's going to hurt so many people. But we're just asking them to follow this order," said Asbell. "If it's not essential, have a reason why you have to leave the house, and find an alternative way to worship."
Asbell said Gov. Pritzker's order doesn't define religious services as essential. The order now runs through the end of April.
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