The Fox Waterway Agency, a conservation organization in Fox Lake, Illinois, has sought clarification from the Illinois state government after the latter recently imposed a restriction on the state’s boating accommodations.
According to a report from the Daily Herald, FWA Executive Director Joseph Keller wrote in a Monday statement that his agency already put safety measures in place before Governor J.B. Pritzker put additional requirements in place on Saturday.
Not More Than One Person on a Boat
The Governor’s restriction came at a news conference last week. At the time, he explained that the government had planned to reopen boating facilities from this weekend. However, there was one caveat – no two people would be allowed to boat together.
Governor Pritzker reiterated that the restrictions are sacrosanct and encompassing, and they are to be followed regardless of whether the two people are related or not, or whether they’re living in the same household.
“It is restricted to two people per boat. You can’t have five people, or ten people in a boat. It is restricted to two, but not necessarily restricted as to whether they’re related to one another.”
Boating is a particularly popular summer activity for residents with access to the waters of the Chain o’ Lakes State Park area in Illinois. The park borders several lakes, including the popular Fox River.
Several people have expressed their concern with how strict the new guidelines are. In a Facebook post, Rep. Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) reportedly explained that the new rules were “very frustrating,” adding that there’s no reason why people who live together can’t boat together as well.
The Representative added that boating is one of the many ways for people to get out and enjoy some fresh air with their loved ones. Restricting them in such a manner, according to him, defeats the purpose of the recreational activity in the first place.
Before the Governor instituted the restrictions, however, the FWA already had some safety measures in place. At a board meeting on Wednesday night, directors agreed that boaters would no longer be allowed to tie boats and other recreational equipment together. They also mandated that boats would need to be at least 10 feet apart.
“With regard to the governor’s follow-up in the same press conference that no more than two people can be on a boat together regardless of being from the same immediate family or not, more clarity is needed due to the safety measures already imposed by the FWA,” Keller said at the time.
Additional Guidelines Required Before Illinois’ Boating Season Commences
However, the fact that these new restrictions are so stringent is a source of concern for the agency. Keller confirmed that the agency had been in active talks with government officials and law enforcement agencies to come up with safer ways for people to self-isolate, while also enjoying boating facilities with their loved ones.
They would need to get that done before this weekend, as avid Illinois boaters will need to know how best to proceed moving forward.
At the same time, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that it is waiting for additional guidance from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources regarding boating on the Fox River.
Chris Covelli, the spokesperson for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed as well that his Office is working with several other agencies – including the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office and Illinois Department of Natural Resources – to develop guidelines for officers to enforce social distancing rules in light of the lockdown.