Chicago Coronavirus

City Shuts Down South Side Irish Pub Over Allegations They Violated Coronavirus Guidelines

The city ordered the closure of the Cork & Kerry Tavern after issuing multiple violations of phase 4 requirements

NBC 5 News

Chicago officials closed down the Cork & Kerry Tavern, an Irish pub in the city's Beverly neighborhood, over the weekend, citing violations of phase four requirements.

The Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection issued the closure order on Sunday. The agency was conducting an investigation due to an employee testing positive for coronavirus at the establishment, located at 10614 S. Western Ave., the department said.

While doing the investigation, the BACP said they issued citations to Cork & Kerry after observing employees not wearing face coverings and operating outside of permitted business hours.

"Irresponsible actions like this put our entire city at risk and will not be tolerated," Isaac Reichman, spokesperson for the BACP, said in a statement.

Cork & Kerry argued the citation given to the bar was done in error.

According to the tavern, an employee tested positive after two sisters, who both work at the bar, reported their father, a plumber in Chicago, had been diagnosed with coronavirus on July 15.

"One sister was positive for Covid, and one was negative," a post on the tavern's Facebook page read Monday. "Neither had any symptoms. They have not returned to work as of today and we are happy to report they are doing just fine, as is their dad. No other staff member has shown any symptoms nor have any customers."

The post states the bar was sanitized following the positive test and they received a visit from the city on July 16 and again on Friday, with no citations issued until early Saturday, when the bar had patrons after the city's midnight curfew.

"The next night, Saturday, July 25 at 12:07 a.m., we were visited again as we were cleaning up with six staff members in the bar," the post stated. "Three unmasked city inspectors walked in and cited us for having people in the bar. No one other than our own staff was present, all in compliance with current city ordinances. The unmasked inspectors wrote up another violation, even though each and every customer had exited for the night."

The bar said it attempted to contact city officials regarding the error but has been unsuccessful.

The area's alderman, however, said this is not the first time Cork & Kerry has been cited by the city for not following health guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

On June 5, the tavern was issued citations for having 40 to 50 patrons indoors and outdoors during phase three, according to Ald. O'Shea's office. During that phase, only restaurants with a retail food license were allowed to have outdoor dining. Cork & Kerry Tavern only has a liquor license.

In order to re-open, the Cork & Kerry is required to submit a plan to safely bring back customers in compliance with Health Department orders. Once the BACP receives the plan, it is up to them to accept it or deny it for the business to legally re-open.

"The safety of residents is my top priority," O'Shea said in an email to his constituents. "It is my hope that this business will soon re-open in a safe and responsible manner. "

In total, the BACP weekend enforcement team conducted 55 investigations and issued 11 total citations to 5 businesses for failing to follow the phase four guidelines.

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