west loop

West Loop Bar and Restaurant Shut Down for Violating Coronavirus Rules

A total of 12 citations were issued to six businesses over the weekend

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Wise Owl Drinkery and Cookhouse in Chicago's West Loop was shut down over the weekend for violating the city's reopening rules, according to a spokesman with the city's department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The bar and restaurant, which is located at 324 S. Racine Ave., failed to maintain social distancing, exceeded capacity, and patrons weren't wearing masks, city officials said.

Under the city's Phase Four 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.

Andy Cowin, owner of the Wise Owl, said his establishment has all of the appropriate rules in place, but the rules are new, and enforcement is challenging for all bars.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot takes questions from reporters following an event announcing a new report from a COVID-19 Recovery Task Force.

"We need you to socially distance, wear a mask when you leave the table," he said. "It's very difficult to hunt you down like a babysitter."

The Wise Owl reopened on Monday with several new safety measures in place. The extended patio has been closed, hookah service has been stopped and extra staff has been added to help with enforcement.

"We want everybody to have a good time, but it's impossible to control the actions of other people," Cowin said.

During the weekend, a total of 12 citations were issued to six businesses for failing to follow reopening guidelines.

"While most businesses are taking the necessary precautions to keep their customers and employees safe, the City will continue to hold the bad actors accountable," spokesman Isaac Reichman said in a statement. "...Irresponsible actions like this put our entire city at risk and will not be tolerated."

BACP can issue citations with fines of up to $10,000 for social distancing, capacity limit and face covering violations.

Since June, the department has received 1,276 reopening complaints, conducted 557 investigations, issued 85 warnings or Notices to Correct, cited 25 businesses, and ordered the immediate closure of two businesses, according to a news release.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that she would not hesitate to reinstate restrictions to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, including shutting down indoor dining and bars once again, as the city sees an uptick in cases, particularly among younger age groups.

As of Monday, 154,799 and 7,193 cases have been reported statewide.

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