CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is trying to make permanent the liquor sale curfew that stops stores from selling beer, wine and other drinks at 10 p.m.
The city created the generally unpopular 9 p.m. liquor curfew in April 2020, saying the move was necessary to prevent people from gathering outside during the coronavirus pandemic. She brought back the curfew in October during a second wave of COVID-19.
Now, Lightfoot is trying to make the curfew permanent. She’s introducing the proposed change Wednesday at City Council as part of a package of changes her office said would help businesses recover from the pandemic.
The proposed change says no person with a package goods license can sell or give away packaged goods 10 p.m.-7 a.m. daily.
“This initiative will address public safety and nuisance issues by limiting the nighttime sale of packaged goods …,” the Mayor’s Office said in a news release.
When Lightfoot created the curfew in April 2020, she said the move was meant to be “protective” amid the pandemic. She threatened business owners that didn’t comply would be subject to fines, arrests and losing their liquor license.
“Far too many have been congregating at stores that sell alcohol, especially in the evening hour,” Lightfoot said at an April 8, 2020, news conference.
At the same news conference, then-Police Supt. Charlie Beck also said the liquor curfew was to protect people from gathering during the pandemic.
“Now it’s time to limit opportunities, to limit [the things] that facilitate the forming of groups, and one of those is liquor stores that are open at night,” Beck said.
But now, Lightfoot is pushing for a permanent curfew as Chicago reopens, coronavirus cases fall and more people get vaccinated.
At a Wednesday afternoon news conference, the mayor said she wants the change because people loitering outside stores poses “quality-of-life issues” to neighbors.
“What we’ve been trying to balance throughout this is giving packaged good stories an opportunity to sell alcohol, but also acknowledging the real quality-of-life issues that sometimes creep up around these businesses where you’ve got loitering, where you’ve got other illegal activity that happens around them,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot, asked if there was any study that showed those issues dropped after the prior liquor curfews, instead said city officials had received reports of bad actors.
The change would need City Council’s sign-off to go into effect.
Before the pandemic, stores could sell liquor until 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday and until 3 a.m. Sundays.
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