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Lightfoot Cuts Bar And Restaurant Capacity To 100-Person Max Over Coronavirus Concerns

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hasn't ruled out shutting down bars and restaurants entirely as St. Patrick's Day revelers continue to pack bars.

Revelers packed bars in River North Saturday afternoon.
Justin Laurence/ Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — As revelers continue to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is cutting the capacity of bars and restaurants due to coronavirus concerns.

All businesses that sell liquor are required to have less than half of their regular max capacity, or a max capacity of 100 people through St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, Lightfoot announced in a tweet Sunday.

Lightfoot said she and Gov. JB Pritzker were very concerned to see “people engaging in very foolish conduct” as people packed bars to celebrate Saturday.

“We saw people engaging in very risky behavior: sharing drinks, sharing flasks, lines queued up,” Lightfoot said — all actions the Centers for Disease Control recommends against. “We have to stop that and shut that down.”

Lightfoot said she is giving bar owners the chance to “show that they can get this right.”

“We’re giving bar owners the opportunity to be good partners on this, but if they can’t police this and abide by the restrictions then we’re going to look at taking further action,” she said.

The max-capacity rule is drawing “a very hard line,” Lightfoot acknowledged. Shutting down bars and restaurants would have a drastic impact on industry owners and workers, she said.

“I am very, very mindful that this is a difficult time. And it’s particularly a difficult time for our hourly workers,” Lightfoot said. One restaurateur told her they are “falling off a cliff right now.”

“We’re trying to do everything we can to stabilize that part of our economy, but we need the restaurants and bar owners to be our partner,” Lightfoot said. “… They’ve got to step up. What we saw yesterday is totally unacceptable.”

Lightfoot hasn’t ruled out shutting down bars and restaurants entirely.

“If we have to be the parent and the adult in the room to make sure bars are doing what’s necessary, then we’re going to do that. I’m not going to hesitate,” Lightfoot said.

Last week the city announced rules mandating all events with 1,000 or more attendees be canceled and recommended events with 250 or more attendees be canceled or postponed.

On Saturday, the total of novel coronavirus cases in the state had risen to 66, which included people who have already recovered, the state announced.

RELATED: Coronavirus In Chicago: Governor Begs St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Revelers To ‘Please Go Home’

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