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Lightfoot Proposes Permanent Midnight Liquor Sales Curfew at Grocery, Convenience Stores

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A month after her proposal to institute a permanent 10 p.m. liquor sales curfew at grocery and convenience stores was rescinded, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has unveiled a new "compromise" plan that would institute a midnight curfew on those sales.

Lightfoot says that the compromise was hammered out after she received backlash for her initial plan, and the mayor says that she discussed the proposal with various community leaders, business leaders and elected officials.

"In order to truly recover from this pandemic, we must listen to the voices of the community and learn from the lessons of this past year to build back stronger than ever," Lightfoot said. "This initiative has focused from the beginning on addressing what is not working with business as usual, based on what we have heard from community members, business leaders and workers – and we appreciate the continued dialogue we have had the past few weeks. We believe a midnight closure is a reasonable compromise that addresses the serious nuisance issues raised by late-night liquor sales without unduly burdening our business community, and I continue to look forward to working with all stakeholders to make our city as safe and vibrant as possible."

Under the mayor's proposal, Chicago's liquor sale curfew, which was first implemented during the coronavirus pandemic, could become permanent for some businesses.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit grocery stores and convenience stores that sell packaged alcohol from making such sales between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m., though supermarkets won't be able begin selling on Sundays until 8 a.m.

Several members of the Chicago City Council, including Ald. Emma Mitts and Tom Tunney, expressed their approval of the new plan.

“As we enter Phase 5, businesses and communities throughout the city are facing a pivotal moment,” Tunney, who represents Chicago's 44th Ward, said. “The midnight liquor curfew is a good compromise between the needs of businesses that are working to recover from the pandemic and the needs of residents that face quality of life issues in their neighborhoods.”

"Late-night alcohol sales have long posed a problem in the 37th Ward and throughout the City, and I thank Mayor Lightfoot for listening to the community and taking the initiative to address this problem," said Mitts, Chairperson of the Committee on License and Consumer Protection, added. "It is important that come together to find a reasonable compromise, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this necessary legislation that strikes the right balance between our businesses and our communities."

The proposal will be introduced directly to the committee Thursday, according to Lightfoot's press release.

Restaurants and bars can continue selling into the early morning hours under the proposal.

"The late night sale of package goods liquor has been a contributing factor in public safety disturbances and has had a notable impact on the quality of life in Chicago neighborhoods," the proposed ordinance states. "The mitigation of late night sales of package goods has led to a reduction in violence and other concerning incidents."

The ordinance is part of a "Chi Biz Strong" proposal, which aims to "provide much needed financial relief to thousands of businesses, cut red tape across numerous city processes and deliver new protections for workers and consumers," according to the mayor's office.

A 9 p.m. liquor sale curfew was initially put in place for stores that sell alcohol early during the coronavirus pandemic in Chicago. That restriction was eased slightly in March, allowing sales of packaged alcohol as late as 11 p.m.

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