Bar owner says Chicago should be more flexible in enforcing changing coronavirus rules

Chicago News
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CHICAGO —  After the city shut down a popular watering hole in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, its owner said officials should be more understanding as businesses struggle to survive the pandemic Monday.

Inspectors ordered Cork & Kerry to close over the weekend, citing the business for violations of new rules put into place during the latest phase of the pandemic. 

Owner Bill Guide said the changing climate makes it hard to weather the storm. 

“I wish they’d be more understanding  and cooperative,” Guide said.

After an employee tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, Guide says a series of city inspections began. On July 16, Guide said city officials visited three times and found them to be in compliance each time.

After new rules were introduced that allowed the bar to close at midnight, he says inspectors were back this past Friday evening into Saturday morning.

Just after midnight, according to the city, inspectors found, “violations of the health department’s orders including employees not wearing face coverings, and operating outside of permitted business hours.”

The inspectors were back early Sunday morning, Guide said, and even though he told them it was only employees there at the time, inspectors cited him again. 

“Saying that people were in the bar but it was just the six employees, they didn’t take our word for it and wrote us another violation,” Guide said.

The City said Cork & Kerry had been cited in early June for violating other health department orders as well. The bar was shut down by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Sunday afternoon.

After the closure, Alderman Matt O’Shea (19th ward) issued a statement saying in part: “the safety of residents is my top priority. it is my hope that this business will soon re-open in a safe and responsible manner.”

Guide says he’s baffled by the city’s reaction.

“The stuff that came out today is just egregious and not based on any fact at all.  The city inspectors came in without their masks on and they’re going to tell us that we didn’t have masks on?  They’re not telling the truth,” he said. 

Cork & Kerry is now working with the city on a new safety plan, which needs to be approved by the liquor commission, and they hope to reopen by the end of this week.  

The hearing on their citations is scheduled for September.  


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