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Chicago Cuts Off Liquor Sales At 9 P.M. To Curb Crowds As Coronavirus Spreads

The liquor-sales curfew will go into effect at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Rite Liquors, 1649 W. Division St.
Alisa Hauser/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Chicago’s stores must now stop selling liquor at 9 p.m. as the city tries to crack down on crowds as coronavirus spreads, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday.

The liquor sales curfew will go into effect at 9 p.m. Thursday, Lightfoot said.

The move aims to break up crowds that gather outside stores that sell liquor. Interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck said the city has warned people, written tickets and made arrests to break up crowds — and now it’s trying to limit the opportunities for those crowds to form, which means shutting down liquor stores that have been open at night.

The liquor curfew will remain in effect through April 30, when the statewide stay at home order expires, the mayor said.

“Like our closure of the lakefront two weeks ago, this is not punitive. It’s protective,” she said. “… Far too many have been congregating at stores that sell alcohol, especially in the evening hour.”

Earlier this week, owners of several West Side liquor stores said they would voluntarily close early to help.

People socialize outside liquor stores, which has made enforcing the social distancing guidelines tough, said Deputy Chief Ernest Cato III. Cutting liquor store hours will show young people who haven’t been affected by the epidemic that they need to take it seriously, too, he said.

“We have a health crisis that we have to deal with. And you’re going to see the young folks in the neighborhoods in this community start to realize that, just from something as simple as this,” Cato said.

On March 29, police broke up 89 groups of people in the Harrison Police District on the West Side alone, spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Business owners who don’t comply with the new rules will face stiff penalties, Lightfoot warned.

“This includes powers to fine, arrest and revoke your liquor license and other licenses if you refuse to comply,” she said. “… We will not hesitate to take even further action as needed.”

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