Indoor dining and bar services in Chicago must shut down this week, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said Tuesday, as the state and its most populous city bear a surge in coronavirus infections.
The new restrictions, which also ban gatherings of more than 25 people, take effect Friday and come in response to a sustained rise in the city’s coronavirus test positivity rate and a recent surge in covid-19 hospitalizations, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Hours after the announcement, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot argued that those metrics to determine closures were too strict and should be altered to prevent unnecessary economic ramifications.
“If the governor’s order goes into effect, it’s really effectively shutting down a significant portion of our economy at a time when those same businesses are really hanging on by a thread, so we’re going to continue our engagement with the governor and his team,” Lightfoot said on “PBS NewsHour” on Tuesday evening.
Pritzker’s office responded later, saying Lightfoot’s staff was briefed on the state’s mitigation plan.
“Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t make exceptions, and it would be ill-advised to make exceptions to the rules we put in place as the best mitigations to stop the spread,” the governor’s press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh, wrote in an email to The Washington Post. “As the CDC has noted, bars and restaurants are major places of transmission risk. We’ll continue to provide support to businesses that are hard hit through our $630 million in grants.”
In the announcement, Pritzker’s office said the restrictions would be relaxed if the city met a series of goals, including a drop in its positivity rate, hospital admissions and average ICU bed availability over three days.
“We can’t ignore what is happening around us — because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring,” Pritzker wrote in a statement.
Illinois reported 4,000 infections Tuesday, and the state’s seven-day average for new cases reached a new high of more than 4,700. In Cook County, where Chicago is located, officials reported 237 infections per 100,000 people in the past week, a record since the start of the pandemic, according to a Post data analysis.
In the county’s suburban areas, hospitals are admitting an average of 50 covid-19 patients per day — five times the number of hospitalizations in June, Pritzker wrote on Facebook following the news of the closures.
The shutdowns in Chicago come the day after Pritzker announced mitigation efforts for the city’s suburbs, which will begin Wednesday.