Listen to this article

Questions? Tom's Mailbag

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has issued a cease-and-desist notice to the Mattress Firm store in Champaign, which stayed open after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order took effect at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The governor's order doesn’t specifically list mattress stores as essential businesses, but an associate who identified himself as Sam Michael said the store at 903B W. Anthony Drive was in the clear because it sells household consumer goods, which were deemed essential by the governor.

Health district Administrator Julie Pryde disagreed.

“We just served them a cease and desist,” she said Tuesday. “They can have one employee in for online orders.”

When The News-Gazette called Mattress Firm back after being told this, an associate there hung up.

In a statement, CEO John Eck said he believes Illinois stores are allowed to stay open.

“The order specifically names businesses that sell household consumer products, as well as products that are essential to the operation of a residence, as essential retail,” he said. “We feel confident that sleep is an essential function of a home, especially during times of high stress and anxiety.”

He also said that Mattress Firm is a low-volume store, which allows for adequate social distancing.

“Additionally, I can assure you that we are taking precautions to sanitize high-touch areas,” Eck said.

Tom Bender, who owns Bender Mattress Factory, said his store and others like it in town closed because they weren’t marked as essential and because mattress stores could spread the coronavirus.

“I’m proud to say all of us had notes in our windows saying we were closed for the duration” of the stay-at-home order, Bender said. “People can lay down and leave the virus on the mattress. It’s an intimate thing when you lay down on a mattress and put your head on a pillow.”

He believes his store will be able to weather the closure, as it only has three full-time employees and one part-timer, but he said it won’t necessarily be easy.

“We’ve become lean and mean,” he said. “We’re going to be OK. But we have no income, and as far as Bender, we have to ride out these next two weeks or more with our cash on hand. ... I may have to take personal money and put it into the account. But we’re doing everything we can to take care of our employees.”