As many of you know, earlier this month I introduced legislation to allow for extended hours of operation for bars and restaurants from 11:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., allowing Chicago's hospitality industry much-needed relief during this very challenging time.
Today, Dr. Arwady, the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), announced a re-tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in response to a recent, rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations over the past two weeks. Beginning Friday, October 23rd at 6:00 a.m., a business curfew will be in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for all non-essential businesses, and bars without a retail food license will no longer be able to serve customers indoors.
I am disappointed in Dr. Arwady’s decision and believe the targeted restrictions introduced today will have unintended consequences. COVID doesn’t care what time you are drinking alcohol. This restriction may encourage individuals, especially young adults, to gather indoors at private parties, rather than controlled small gatherings under strict regulations at our local restaurants and bars.
I am incredibly concerned about what the impact of this temporary restriction will have on our local hospitality industry and if they will be able to recover. The hospitality industry alone employs nearly 100,000 Chicagoans, and most of these businesses - whether downtown or in the neighborhoods - are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and closure.
I understand the need for temporary restrictions to curb the spread, however, I believe restrictions should be tied to indoor occupancy, not the hours of operation. Much of the spread we’re seeing in Chicago is tied to private gatherings among friends and family at home. Therefore to help slow the spread of COVID, all Chicagoans are being asked to avoid social gatherings of more than six people and end all social gatherings by 10:00 p.m.
Under the restrictions announced today, businesses that were deemed essential during the Stay at Home Order, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations, may remain open during the business curfew hours. Restaurants may continue operating for take-out or delivery, but indoor or outdoor consumption of food or alcohol must cease at 10:00 p.m.
Additionally, all bars, taverns, or breweries that do not have a Retail Food Establishment License will no longer be able to serve customers indoors at any time. All establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption must end alcohol service at 9:00 p.m. before closing at 10:00 p.m. under the business curfew. All other existing restrictions remain in place, including indoor capacity limits of 40% or 50 people within a room or space.
These restrictions and guidelines will be in effect for at least two weeks and are targeted to help Chicago manage an alarming recent rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.