Chicago’s 9 p.m. curfew on liquor sales begins Thursday

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CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city will implement a new 9 p.m. curfew for liquor sales Wednesday, saying the measure is necessary to prevent people from violating the state’s stay-at-home order.

The 9 p.m. curfew on liquor sales will go into effect on April 9 and will remain in place throughout the duration of the stay-at-home order, according to a statement from the city. Potential penalties for violating the curfew include a $500 fine, arrest and revocation of liquor and other licenses.

“As with our lakefront closure, we are putting this curfew in place because too many individuals and businesses have been violating the stay-at-home order,” Lightfoot said. “While most businesses and individuals have been acting responsibly, the reality is that far too many have been congregating at stores that sell alcohol, especially in the evening hours.”

According to the latest statistics released by the city, there have been 21 citations of up to $120,000 in fines to eight businesses for violating the statewide mandate. Additionally, CPD says officers have given 2,033 dispersal orders in response to large gatherings and issued 11 citations to people for not following those orders.

In addition to people congregating at liquor stores, Lightfoot said there have been multiple cases of people hosting gatherings at Airbnb and other rental properties.

“If we find you, we will shut it down. We’re also going to pursue license revocation when possible,” Lightfoot said.

Watch Above: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other officials speak during a regular update on COVID-19 and the latest measures taken by the city Wednesday

While memes and posts on social media jokingly portray the mayor enforcing the stay-at-home order herself, Lightfoot said Wednesday she actually has been driving around the city and breaking up social gatherings wherever she sees them. 

“I told people that i saw gathering in clusters not abiding by social distancing to break it up,” Lightfoot said.

Chicago Police Department Interim Superintendent Charlie Beck echoed the mayor’s tone Wednesday when speaking about recent gun violence in the city.

“Every one of those beds — every one of those ER beds — taken up by a gunshot victim could be somebody’s grandmother, somebody with preexisting conditions, somebody that’s in danger of losing their lives because of the pandemic,” Beck said.

Police began additional enforcement of the stay-at-home order Tuesday night, implementing checkpoints in districts across the city from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Police say they will be setting up the late-night checkpoints through April 9.

On Monday, a few liquor stores on the West Side voluntarily began limiting their hours to encourage people to stay home. Under the new order, all businesses that sell liquor will have to follow suit and stop sales at 9 p.m.

A new analysis by the Northwestern University Transportation Center finds there are less cars on the roads in Chicago as people follow stay-at-home orders, and less crashes as a result. However, crashes involving pedestrians seem to have more serious injuries as cars go faster on clearer streets.

New modeling from the University of Washington shows COVID-19 cases in Illinois may not be as severe as originally feared, and local hospitals may be able to mostly handle the influx of patients.

New data from the governor’s office found the lowest percentages of available intensive care unit beds are in hospitals in Chicago’s north suburbs (16 percent) and southwest suburbs (20 percent).

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