All Illinois Bars, Restaurants to Close for Two Weeks Due to COVID-19

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Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. - FLICKR/ CHICAGOPUBLICMEDIA
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Earlier this afternoon, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that all restaurants and bars in the state must close for two weeks beginning tomorrow night in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"I am ordering all bars and restaurants in the state of Illinois to close to the public as of the close of business Monday night, March 16, through March 30," Pritzker said. "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."

Restaurants offering delivery and curbside services will be able to remain open. If your favorite restaurant just across the river offers either, now would be the time to use your purchasing power to show your support. If your favorite Illinois restaurants and bars don't offer those services, consider buying gift cards to use in the future.

Governor Pritzker announced the news at a briefing alongside Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Restaurant Association president Sam Toia, among others. Pritzker said he and his office would have more details about the mandate in the days ahead. He admitted what a hard step this would be for local restaurant owners, but that the threat of COVID-19 is too great to allow these businesses to continue operating at this time.

"As I've said, there are no easy decisions left to make as we address this unprecedented crisis," Pritzker said at the press conference. "Every choice that we face  — every choice — now is hard, and it comes with real consequences for our residents. But as your governor, I cannot let the gravity of these choices prevent us from taking the actions that the science and the experts say will keep people safe."

Regarding runs on grocery stores across the state, Pritzker said that Illinois' food-supply chain is "among the strongest and steadiest," and that he's committed to keeping it that way "as this situation evolves." He asked the people of Illinois to help allay this issue by not hoarding food and essentials.

"Buy what you need, but please be reasonable," Pritzker said. "Think of your friends and neighbors. There is enough food to go around, but we need people not to be selfish."

Pritzker also addressed access to school lunches for children reliant on those meals. He said that local districts will contact students, parents and guardians directly with more information about distribution.

"The Illinois state board of education has received the necessary waivers to continue to distribute two meals a day to children who qualify for free and reduced lunch statewide starting Tuesday," Pritzker said.

You can watch the briefing here for Pritzker's full remarks:

For more information on COVID-19, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, and for more on the local response, go to websites for the city's health department and St. Louis County's health department.

Follow Liz Miller on Twitter at @lizzaymillah. We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected]
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