Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Sunday that all restaurants and bars will be closed to dine-in consumers starting Tuesday morning. The measure will run through the end of March.
“As your governor, I can’t allow the gravity of these decisions from taking the measures that experts say will keep people safe,” said Pritzker during the latest coronavirus COVID-19 briefing.
Pritzker said that he and his staff are working alongside restaurant owners and food delivery agencies to determine whether restaurants can safely keep their kitchens open without risk of further transmission.
“We are working with restaurant owners and food delivery services across the state to see if restaurants can safely keep their kitchens open, so the restaurants can continue food delivery to people at their homes,” said Pritzker.
“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over. The time for action is here. This is not a joke. No one is immune to this, and you have an obligation to act in the best interests of all the people of this state.”
Pritzker was joined on stage by Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, who acknowledged the impact the measure will hold on a city with a proud St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Lightfoot described the decision to close bars and restaurants to dine-in customers as a preemptive attempt to stem the spread of the virus by deterring large, celebratory gatherings.
“[This year] must be different, to save lives. I do not want to see hordes of people out in the streets,” said Lightfoot. “The bars will be shut. So please, stay home and be safe.”
Lightfoot also announced an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to deputize firefighters for on-site screening at O’Hare Airport. “These are our EMTs, who are providing medical care, every single day,” said Lightfoot.
On Saturday, Pritzker criticized federal response to extended wait times in airports which led to “dangerous” overcrowding. Passengers at O’Hare Airport reported waits of up to 10 hours with officers providing water and sanitation.
“The crowds & lines O’Hare are unacceptable & need to be addressed immediately,” tweeted Pritzker. “[Donald Trump and Mike Pence] since this is the only communication medium you pay attention to—you need to do something NOW. These crowds are waiting to get through customs which is under federal jurisdiction.”
This is a developing story and will be updated shortly.