CHICAGO — The city is fining people as much as $5,000 if they host parties during the coronavirus pandemic.
An impassioned Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Saturday warned people planning to hold house parties in violation of the state’s stay at home order that police will shut them down, cite the hosts and even arrest them.
The mayor said she called an unexpected Saturday afternoon press conference with her new police chief at her side after multiple Friday night house parties were broken up by Chicago Police. Some parties were as large as 150 people, she said.
“Don’t be stupid. Don’t come out. Don’t advertise on social media. We are watching you and we are gonna take decisive action,” she said. “And this is how it’s gonna be: We will shut you down, we will cite you and, if we need to, we will arrest you and we will take you to jail. Period. Don’t make us treat you like a criminal.”
The city warned people hosting house parties, large gatherings or other events during the stay at home order can be fined as much as $5,000.
New Police Supt. David Brown said the city is aware of six house parties planned for Saturday night. He said “bold and blatant” hosts are advertising parties on social media, and “you don’t have to be a rocket scientist” to root them out.
He urged the hosts to immediately cancel the parties. Police in every district have been ordered to be on the lookout for illegal parties and will tow the cars of partygoers, he said.
“As silly at that sounds, you could be arrested for having a party in this COVID-19 environment,” Brown said. “Anyone who holds these large parties will be held accountable.”
Brown and Lightfoot urged people to call 911 if they know of or see house parties. They noted people can report parties anonymously.
“Let me also add how upset I am about the selfishness of these parties,” Lightfoot said. “We have health care workers every day risking life and limb to take care of people in hospitals who are gasping for their last breath because they’re sick with COVID-19.
“How can we not honor that sacrifice by doing a simple thing? And that is staying at home. We have to do better. … If you want to hang out with your friends, call them. If you want to have a dance party, TikTok. Some other form of video.”
Standing at South Springfield Avenue and West Adams Street — where police are aware a house party is planned for Saturday night — Lightfoot told residents it would be “the height of foolishness” to host or attend a party.
“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t get it,” she said. “3,491 young people, 18-29, and counting every single day, have contracted this virus in our city. And, yes, folks, Black people can get COVID-19. The first death in our city was that of a Black woman who got the disease and, unfortunately, passed away as a result.”
Lightfoot noted 53 percent of coronavirus deaths in Chicago are among Black people and 23 percent are among Latinx residents.
“When you go home to your momma, your grandma or anyone else in your household who has an underlying condition, you are bringing DEATH TO THEIR DOORSTEP,” Lightfoot said, her voice rising. “Make no mistake about it.”
Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department, warned Airbnb operators if people throw parties in their properties, they will face fines “and never be allowed to ever be a shared host operator here in the city of Chicago. “
Watch the mayor’s press conference here:
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