Gov Orders Last Call For Bars, Restaurants For Two Weeks

Mar 15, 2020

Credit Kamil Hamid/flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Following the confirmation of more COVID-19 cases in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker is ordering bars and restaurants closed to customers.

At the end of business Monday March 16, all establishments will be prohibited from having customers inside through March 30th.  

He mentioned it's a hard step to take, but said a lot of residents have ignored the calls to stay at home and avoid crowds. Pritzker seemed especially upset that many St. Patrick's Day revelers crowded into bars in various cities, despite the cancellation of parades and other events.  

“It’s unfortunate that many people didn’t take that seriously.  The time for persuasion and public appeals is over. The time for action is here,” said Pritzker.

“Every choice now is hard and it comes with real consequences for our residents.  But as your Governor, I cannot let the gravity of these choices prevent us from taking the actions that the science and the experts say will keep people safe.”

"We are working with restaurant owners and food delivery services across the state to see if restaurants can safely keep their kitchens open and continue food delivery to people at their homes," Pritzker commented.  He added drive-thru and curbside pickup options would be allowed.  

The President of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Sam Toia, said safety is the top priority of his members, but added his organization will continue efforts to seek some sort of financial relief. 

After the announcement, one of the more high profile restauranteurs in the state weighed in. Rick Bayless, who founded the Frontera Grill and owns several other establishments in the Chicago area, posted on twitter.

"Few workers in Illinois are as vulnerable as these employees," Bayless wrote, referring to those who work in restaurants and bars.    "And few businesses are as vulnerable as ours."

'Let me be frank. We will not survive this closure without immediate, decisive help from the government."

Bayless called for immediate emergency unemployment payments for workers furloughed, elimination of the payroll tax and rent and loan abatement for restaurant workers.