Chicago bars and restaurants serving alcohol will now be required to close by midnight each night, the city is set to announce Friday.
According to the mayor's office, new regulations from the Business Affairs and Consumer Protection require any establishment that serves alcohol to shut down by midnight in an effort to "prevent the spread of COVID-19 at Chicago's bars and restaurants." Curbside pick-up and delivery of food can still take place after midnight, as long as customers do not enter or remain in an establishment, officials said.
The city already prohibited the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption after 11 p.m. and for off-site consumption at 9 p.m.
"While the vast majority of establishments are following regulations and taking important preventative steps, this directive will minimize the spread of COVID-19 by preventing late-night congregating that could occur after the cutoff of alcohol sales," the mayor's office said in a release.
Restaurants that do not have a liquor license won't be subject to the closure order.
The BACP said it has received 1,112 reopening complaints since June 3 and conducted 483 investigations resulting in 81 warnings, 17 business citations and the immediate closure of one business.
Last week, both the city and state warned restaurants and bars of the consequences of not following phase four guidelines.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike issued a plea for businesses to comply with phase four guidelines as states across the country continue to see "rapid increases."
“We have seen that mitigation measures have worked in our state and we’ve seen too many other states rapidly lose ground in the fight against the virus. If establishments cannot abide by capacity requirements, I will not hesitate to close them to keep people safe," Pritzker said in a statement. "We must continue to take the proven steps that keep us safe: wear a face covering, watch your distance and wash your hands. While other parts of the country are refusing to follow the science and seeing their positivity rate and hospitalizations increase, Illinoisans have come together to keep each other safe. Let’s keep being all in for our communities.”
The state warned bars and restaurants that liquor licenses could be revoked and businesses could be immediately shut down if found in violation of the guidelines.
“Bars, by design, are social settings where people gather closely together for extended periods of time. Additionally, people often need to raise their voices or shout to be heard, which means droplets from seemingly well but infected individuals could spread further than the recommended 6 feet of distancing,” Ezike said in a statement. “All of these factors increase the risk of transmission and can lead to more cases and outbreaks."
Under the guidelines, bars and restaurants can seat a max of 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer, and must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. They are also required to manage lines outside of their business.
Chicago's latest move comes as states across the U.S. see surges of coronavirus cases, many shutting down bars and restaurants in an effort to quell or prevent a spike.