CHICAGO — All bars and restaurants in Illinois must close their doors to dine-in customers from the end of business Monday night through March 30, Governor JB Pritzker ordered Sunday, due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
“There are no easy decisions left to make as we address this unprecedented crisis,” Pritzker said Sunday. “As your governor I can’t allow the gravity of these decisions from taking the measures that the science and the experts say will keep people safe.”
Pritzker made the announcement during the latest briefing on the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois Sunday afternoon. Under the order, all restaurants and bars will not be open to the public, although employees can still go in. Drive-through and pickup services will still be allowed.
It comes after crowds of people descended on downtown Chicago to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Saturday, contrary to recommendations from Pritzker and health officials.
“I tried earlier this week to appeal to everyone’s good judgement to stay home, to avoid bars, not to congregate in crowds. It’s unfortunate that many people didn’t take that seriously,” Pritzker said. “The time for persuasion and public appeals is over. The time for action is here.”
WATCH ABOVE: Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announces all bars and restaurants will be closed through March 30 due to COVID-19 concerns
Pritzker said state officials are working with restaurant owners and food delivery services to make sure restaurants can safely keep their kitchens open.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city would enforce the measures announced by Pritzker Sunday, while trying to find ways to mitigate any long-term effects the closures could have.
“I think and I hope people recognize and understand these decisions are being made for the long-term well-being and health of everyone, Lightfoot said. “If we were to delay the inevitable we would be putting everyone’s health in jeopardy.”
While Lightfoot said she gets the tradition of St. Patrick’s Day, she asked people stay home on the actual date of the holiday this Tuesday, March 17.
“I do not want to see hordes of people out in the streets. The bars will be shut, so please: stay home and be safe,” Lightfoot said.
Also present during the press conference, Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia said they understand such measures are necessary to protect the health and safety of customers and employees. Toia said the IRA would be lobbying on behalf of the industry to see if bars and restaurants can be offered relief as they are forced to close their doors.
Earlier in the day Sunday, Chicago officials announced restrictions limiting the capacity of bars and restaurants that sell liquor across the city. Now, those and other dining establishments will all be closed to customers until March 30.