Pritzker warns another lockdown in Illinois is not out of the question

With the coronavirus resurging in nearby states, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker says he reserves the right to order a new round of shutdowns.

But the governor says if it happens, it would look different than what he ordered last year.

Pritzker insists Illinois, especially the Chicago area, is still a long way from a new round of shutdowns. If it happens however, Pritzker says it wouldn't be as tilted as it was last year in favor of big box stores, as long as they had a corner devoted to selling groceries.


"When you walk into a Walmart, in addition to there being a grocery store, there's also other things that you could buy. And so I think, certainly in retrospect now, I think what we would say is, ‘if you could have kept the capacity limit appropriate in a smaller venue, it might have kept that open,’" Pritzker said.

That might have saved at least some of the small retailers who went bust during the earlier emergency shutdown, which the governor said he ordered in adherence to federal guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

"But we were following, in a very unknown environment, with a new coronavirus – the federal government was essentially saying to us, 'you need to keep these things open and you need to close the other things,'" Pritzker said.


The governor said he is currently most concerned about rising rates of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization in Illinois counties next to Missouri.

"Missouri is…the worst state in the nation right now," Pritzker said. "And it's right on our border. And (COVID-19) is pouring over, unfortunately, across the border into Metro East and southern Illinois."

Some Republican governors in states such as Florida have explicitly ruled out another round of pandemic-related shutdowns. Pritzker said he will not do that.

"You can't say that. There were people last summer who thought we should rule out, you know, additional mitigation… and you saw what happened in October, November, December. I mean it was worse than it was in April and May."

The governor's ready for a bruising battle over these pandemic-related issues, which is one of the main reasons he launched his re-election campaign on Monday, 16 months before the votes will be counted in the November 2022 general election for governor.

Several of the governor's potential Republican challengers have made his handling (they would say "mishandling") of the pandemic a key campaign theme.

The governor, whose personal fortune was estimated by Forbes magazine to be $3.5 billion, is expected to spend at least as much as he did in 2018: $171.5 million.