Mayor sets date to reopen restaurants

Also says Winslow might get second raise

click to enlarge Police chief Kenny Winslow
Police chief Kenny Winslow

Mayor Jim Langfelder says that police chief Kenny Winslow is in line for a second raise next year in addition to a 5% bump this year.

The mayor this month offered Winslow a 5% raise, the maximum allowable without city council approval, to keep the chief in Springfield after Winslow accepted a lower-paying job in Tennessee. The chief subsequently announced that he'll stay in Springfield.

After Tuesday's city council meeting, Langfelder, whose current term ends in the spring of 2022, acknowledged that he's spoken with Winslow about both raises this year and next, including a 10-percent raise over two years if he remains chief.

"That's a possibility, if he stays on two years – that's a possibility," the mayor said. Winslow last year earned $145,433. The raises would cost the city about $15,000 over two years, Langfelder said.

Citing decreasing positivity rates in coronavirus test results in Sangamon County, the mayor also said that he wants restaurants to resume indoor dining on Jan. 12, with capacity limited to 25 percent.

Hours earlier, the Sangamon County Department of Public Health reported that three people had died from COVID-19 during the prior 24 hours. On Wednesday, the New York Times published a database showing that 80% of Springfield's intensive-care unit beds were occupied during the week ending Dec. 10, above both state and national averages. The seven-day positivity rate in Sangamon County was 13.2% on Dec. 1; on Tuesday, the rate was 8.4%, a 30% reduction.

If necessary, Langfelder said, dine-in service could be limited to immediate families, with identification checked to ensure that everyone lived in the same household. "I think the restaurants deserve some certainty," the mayor said. Bars, he suggested, could start reopening in February.

The mayor said that Jan. 12 is an apt date to reopen restaurants because it falls nearly two weeks after New Year's Eve, when experts fear private gatherings might spread the virus. He noted that Springfield School District 186 plans to start limited in-person classes on that date.

Langfelder said that masks have kept the virus in check, although he also acknowledged that the surest way to avoid spreading the virus is by people not coming into contact with other people.

"Restaurants are struggling," the mayor said. "You have to have strict guidelines. If someone does stretch the limits, you close them down."

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