City Cracks Down On Bars, Restaurants; Says Fines Will Be Given If COVID-19 Guidelines Aren't Followed

Waiting In Line

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The City of Chicago will be keeping a close eye on bars and restaurants this holiday weekend. 

The City of Chicago will begin ramping up its enforcement efforts Thursday to ensure businesses, particularly bars and restaurants, are following the public health guidelines for Phase Four during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

After weeks of outreach and education efforts, this weekend the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) will focus on issuing citations with fines of up to $10,000 for violations related to social distancing, capacity limits, and face coverings. Furthermore, BACP investigators are now empowered to immediately close businesses in cases of egregious violation of the phase four guidelines. 

Just last weekend, large crowds were seen throughout the city, with many businesses disregarding social distancing, capacity limits, and face mask requirements. 

On Friday, Mayor Lightfoot was blunt as she addressed comments to bar and restaurant owners: "It’s on you” to enforce the regulations.

“If we see businesses that are flouting the rules, that are putting your profit over the public health and safety of your workers, of members of the public, we’re not going to hesitate to shut you down," she said at a media briefing. "And if you are shut down, you’re not coming back any time soon.”

To avoid the examples last weekend, BACP has spent this week canvasing entertainment districts throughout Chicago. The city has reminded all bars and restaurants that all patrons to be seated, indoor capacity must be limited to 25 percent or 50 people, whichever is fewer, they must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m., and they must manage lines outside of establishments.

While BACP investigators will be on the ground proactively enforcing this weekend, they also encourage members of the public to call 311 to submit complaints so the department can respond promptly.

To date, BACP has received 764 complaints related to reopening since Phase Three began on June 3. The department has conducted 377 investigations and issued 59 warnings or Notices to Correct, along with citations to 9 businesses.