Chicago COVID-19 Today: Business Curfew, Further Bar Restrictions Imposed By Mayor Lori Lightfoot Come Into Effect With Sharp Rise In Coronavirus Cases

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CHICAGO (WLS) – Chicago’s new COVID-19 restrictions, including a curfew for businesses and a ban on indoor service for bars without a food license, come into effect Friday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s action comes into effect days after a warning about the increase in COVID-19 cases in the city, with the average number of daily cases approaching 700.Under the new rules, bars without a food license can again not have room service. All alcohol sales at all establishments must end by 9 p.m. Non-essential businesses must close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and take-out restaurants, will be allowed to operate.

WATCH: Mayor announces non-essential curfew and restrictions

Mayor Lightfoot said all Chicagoans should refrain from assembling more than six people or any social gathering after 10 p.m.

“If we need to take further action and go back to phase 3 or even return to the shelter in place, I won’t hesitate to do that,” Lightfoot said.

“I don’t want to put more restrictions in our city,” added Lightfoot. “No one is doing it, but I have to do what’s right to save lives and if that means going back further, I will.” ”

The move is frustrating for some bar and restaurant owners, given that earlier this week officials said dining out did not cause the latest spike in COVID-19 cases.

Nick Kontalonis, owner of Marquee Lounge – one of Chicago’s oldest taverns – has gone numb until 2020.

“You seem to get used to it after a while. This is our third rodeo, ”he says.

In the absence of a food license, Kontalonis closed the bar service at the Lincoln Park Pillar last night for the third time this year.

“I guess we just have to do what’s best for the company and let the numbers go down,” he told himself. “It’s the only thing we can do. ”

Places like Marquee Lounge or Rossi’s in River North, old haunts that don’t serve food and have no outdoor space options, have been disproportionately affected by Chicago’s mitigation rules to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m losing a lot of money, but I also think the mayor and governor are trying to do the right thing,” said Dennis McCarthy, owner of Rossi’s. “How can I go crazy? I’m more worried about my employees getting sick. ”

Rossi had been open for four weeks and had tried to do his own contact tracing during that time.

“We have people coming from out of town coming from Texas, Florida and they don’t want to wear a mask, don’t want to go online, they don’t want to follow the rules,” McCarthy said.

Melvin Brooks, the owner of President’s Lounge in Chatham, said a wider closure would be fairer than bar owners come and go.

“My 25 clients, we alone cannot save, we cannot turn the corner on this virus,” Brooks said.

Brooks says the license from the city he paid $ 4,400 for arrived in the mail on Thursday. An official with Chicago’s Department of Commercial Affairs and Consumer Protection declined to say whether the city would consider reimbursing the fee.

For a place that can remain open, bar service must end at 9 p.m. and a 22-hour curfew halted late-night sales.

“This business is such a thin margin business that every hour to add revenue to sales from top line is an opportunity to move into bottom line,” said John Aldape of The Fifty / 50 Restaurant Group. “We really think this will take away our ability to be profitable. And it has already been difficult. ”

Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said often people will say they were in contact with people at a social gathering that could have been held at a bar. Thanks to contact tracing, the city does not have an exact percentage of transmission in bars and restaurants.

“We don’t always know the causality when we are doing case investigation and contact tracing,” said Dr Arwady. “What we do is, when we have a case, we ask ‘Who have you been in contact with? “”

Dr Arwady said large and small gatherings “pose significant health risks”.

WATCH: Dr Allison Arwady opens up about COVID-19 cases in Chicago

“There is a 30% chance that someone in a group of 25 people has COVID-19. There is a 50% chance that someone in a group of 50 has COVID-19. Even with 10 people together in Chicago, there’s a 14% chance someone has COVID-19. ”

All other restrictions, including interior capacity limits of 40% or 50 people in a room or space, remain in effect.

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