New Chicago COVID-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants include indoor dining ban; Mayor Lightfoot pushes back against Governor Pritzker

Indoor dining banned in Chicago and all bars & restaurants must close by 11 p.m. starting Friday
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Stricter COVID-19 restrictions are now in effect Wednesday for suburban Cook County and those new rules will soon take effect in Chicago.

Restaurant and bar owners say they have already been struggling to make ends meet and they're concerned that the coming restrictions could be the knockout blow to their industry.

A full list of the new COVID-19 mitigation measures is included at the bottom of this article.

Starting Friday, Chicago restaurants and bars will once again shut down indoor services. Outside services must close by 11 p.m. and reservations will be required for each party. Governor JB Pritzker announced the restrictions Tuesday afternoon and Mayor Lori Lightfoot has pushed back.

Hours after Gov. JB Pritzker added restrictions to Chicago bars and restaurants, Mayor Lori Lightfoot pushed back on the new rules, suggesting there's been a lack of communication between the two offices.

"We're going to continue our engagement with the governor and his team, but it's not looking good, and if we can't convince him that some other metrics should apply, then the shutdown unfortunately is going to take effect starting Friday by state order," Mayor Lightfoot said on PBS.

Meanwhile, the restrictions went into effect in suburban Cook County Wednesday.

Gov. JB Pritzker said the mitigations were triggered in Chicago by seven straight days of hospital admission increases and eight consecutive days of rising test positivity. In Chicago, the number of non-ICU patients is up 72% since late September and the number of those in ICU is up 56% since October 1.

Chicago's top public health official seemed to anticipate the move before the governor's announcement.

"If the governor makes this decision, we will obviously support it," Dr. Allison Arwady said earlier on Tuesday. "The numbers that we have seen here give me no reason to think that this is not imminent."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded to the governor's action in a written statement: "Communication is the key to navigating through this crisis. We will continue our efforts to engage with the Governor and his team to better understand their metrics so that we can forge targeted solutions to address the public health challenges here in Chicago and across the state. The Governor and I are aligned that we need residents to mask-up and follow the City and State's health guidance in order to reverse these recent troubling trends, but we must remain in lockstep when it comes to the rollout of new restrictions. Even amid the pandemic, I urge residents to continue to find ways to support our small businesses and their local communities."

In response to Lightfoot, a spokesperson for Gov. Pritzker said: "Unfortunately, the virus doesn't make exceptions, and it would be ill-advised to make exceptions to the rules we put in place as the best mitigations to stop the spread. As the CDC has noted, bars and restaurants are major places of transmission risk. We'll continue to provide support to businesses that are hard hit through our $630 million in grants."

The Illinois Dept. of Public Health said it will continue to track metrics in Chicago and if the numbers come down, the restrictions can be eased.

Suburban Cook County restaurant defies governor's order


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A Forest Park restaurant is defying Governor Pritzker's ban on indoor dining in suburban Cook County.



Meanwhile, the restrictions went into effect in suburban Cook County Wednesday.

Charlie's Restaurant in Forest Park is still serving people indoors despite the new state mandated restrictions in suburban Cook County in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Restaurant manager Maria Philippou says she hopes the governor will reconsider the new measures.

"I know the mayor in Chicago told him the same thing," Philippou said. "If more mayors would stand up. Restaurants and bars are one of the most highly regulated industries and you are putting more restrictions on us."

Either way, she says their dining room will remain open.

"It is just a matter of survival at this point for our employees, busers, dishwashers, cooks," Philippou said. "They can't survive on doing take outs."

Philippou has been sharing their plans on social media. The restaurant has received a lot of support but also some criticism.

"People are threatening to boycott the restaurant," Philippou said. "It's sad to read some of the negative comments from people in the community as well."

David Vazquez showed his support this morning by dining in.

"It's important to come out and support them as much as possible as long as they are being safe. I got no reason not being here," said patron David Vazquez.

The new measures last a minimum of 14 days.

City restaurant and bar owners had been bracing for the announcement, saying there will be tough decisions ahead, including more layoffs.

"Without the stimulus package approved, without PPE, without unemployment benefits, It would be difficult-to-impossible for the restaurants, for the employees to survive to pay their rent," said Relu Stan, owner of Fulton Market Kitchen.

"It hurts," said Jeff Lawler, owner of Geja's Café. "My first thought was, 'here we go again.' Will this be a two week shutdown? Will this be a two month shutdown what's it going to be? No one knows.

Additional restrictions on Lake and McHenry counties are expected to be announced on Wednesday. If that happens, the entire Chicagoland area will be operating under stricter COVID-19 mitigation restrictions.

New COVID-19 mitigations for Chicago and suburban Cook County


Bars:


-No indoor service
-All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.
-All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
-No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
-Tables should be 6 feet apart
-No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
-No dancing or standing indoors
-Reservations required for each party

-No seating of multiple parties at one table

Restaurants


-No indoor dining or bar service
-All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.
-Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart
-No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
-Reservations required for each party
-No seating of multiple parties at one table

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings


-Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity
-No party buses
-Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable
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