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Businesses Rack Up $120,000 In Fines To City For Not Following Stay At Home Order

"We encourage and we plead with businesses to do the right thing because the last thing you want is to have more violations on the record."

Cortland's Garage was one of eight businesses to be fined by the city so far for violating the stay at home order.
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CHICAGO — Eight Chicago businesses have racked up fines up to $120,000 for not following the state’s stay at home order.

So far, the city has issued 21 citations among those eight businesses, which included a gym that stayed open, a grocery store that didn’t take steps to enforce social distancing and a bar that continued to serve patrons in-house, said Rosa Escareno, commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, during a Wednesday press conference.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city will collect on those fines as it cracks down amidst the pandemic.

At the same press conference, Lightfoot announced the city is also implementing a 9 p.m. curfew for all liquor stores.

The curfew order will allow Business Affairs and Consumer Protection even more power to curb non-compliance with the state’s stay at home order, Lightfoot said. Investigators will be able to fine and arrest people and revoke their liquor licenses — and other licenses — if they do not comply, she said.

So far, the city has conducted 690 investigations into businesses and contacted 4,000 of them over the phone to talk to them about the requirements of the stay at home order and social distancing, Escareno said.

If a business does violate the order, the city can issue fines of $2,000-$10,000 per violation.

“We have received over 1,000 complaints just since March 21. This is a tough time for our small business community. Many of them have been asked to shutter and close, and they’re doing just that,” Escareno said. “So it’s really unfair when businesses are not following the proper protocols and procedures. And it is important that we support them at this time. But if they are not doing what they are required to do then, unfortunately, my team is going to be showing up.”

The majority of businesses have complied with the order, Escareno said. And the “last thing” Business Affairs and Consumer Protection wants to do is to fine and cite businesses, but they will do that if the order isn’t adhered to, Escareno said.

“We encourage and we plead with businesses to do the right thing because the last thing you want is to have more violations on the record,” Escareno said. “Our time for education … that time has come due. Now it’s time for enforcement. Please follow the stay at home order.”

Businesses that have been cited:

  • Ali Baba Hookah Bar: Allowing dine-in customers
  • Bikram Yoga West Loop: Remaining open as a non-essential business
  • Cermak Fresh Market: Failure to follow social distancing requirements
  • Cortland’s Garage: Allowing dine-in customers
  • High Low Club: Remaining open as a non-essential business
  • River North CrossFit: Remaining open as a non-essential business
  • Sweet Leaf Cigar Lounge: Remaining open as a non-essential business
  • Tucker Pups: Remaining open as a non-essential business

The stay at home order, which was enacted March 21, is set to last through at least April 30. It orders all non-essential businesses to shut down and for people to stay at home as much as possible. Only essential businesses, like grocery stores and pharmacies, are allowed to stay open.

But some businesses, like a Logan Square furniture company, have ignored the order, employees say.

To report a non-essential business that is operating, employees and residents can call 311.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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