CHICAGO — Chicago will impose a 10 p.m. curfew on bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses over the next two weeks as a second wave of coronavirus hits the city, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday.
All non-essential business will be closed 10 p.m.-6 a.m. under the curfew, which goes into effect Friday. All liquor sales must end 9 p.m. across the city.
Bars that don’t serve food will no longer be able to serve customers inside.
Lightfoot is also asking all Chicagoans to refrain from gathering in groups of more than six people or gathering after 10 p.m.
“We are taking these measures to avoid potential catastrophic impacts later,” Lightfoot said.
Essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurant delivery and takeout services are exempt from the curfew.
In Chicago, an average of 645 cases are being reported per day, a 54 percent from the prior week. The city’s had 90,722 confirmed cases so far.
Chicago’s top doctor, Allison Arwady, said there have been days this week where more than 800 and even 900 cases have been reported, “and the numbers are still going up.”
Arwady estimates 35,000-50,000 Chicagoans have COVID-19 right now.
That’s why large gatherings and even small gatherings “are posing significant health risks right now,” she said.
“There is a 30 percent chance that someone in a group of 25 people has COVID-19. There is a 50 percent change that someone in a group of 50 has COVID-19,” Arwady said. “Even in a group of 10, there’s a 14 percent chance someone has COVID-19.”
It’s those kinds of social gatherings that are fueling the spread, Arwady and Lightfoot said, but bars have also seen clusters of cases, hence the new restrictions.
The Department of Public Health is investigating a networking event at a bar that had almost 150 people in attendance. Just one attendee was found to be infected at the event. But since then, five more cases have been traced to the event, Arwady said.
While masks were worn at the event, “people take their masks down when they’re drinking,” Arwady said.
An average of three people are dying per day in the city. At least 3,018 Chicagoans have died so far.
Deaths have remained steady at two or three people per day for months, but officials have warned hospitalizations are going up and they expect to see more people dying soon.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate has risen to 6.4 percent. It was 4.6 percent the prior week.
Lightfoot warned Monday that Phase 3 restrictions could be brought back to slow the virus’s spread as the city sees a new surge of COVID-19.
Under Phase 3, restaurants and bars were not allowed to have indoor seating; large venues, like movie theaters, performance venues, museums and zoos, were closed; and social gatherings were limited to 10 people or fewer; among other things.
“I don’t want to put more restrictions in our city. No one does. But I have to do what is right to save lives. And if that means rolling back further, I will,” Lightfoot said.
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