As several regions of Illinois prepare for additional restrictions designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a warning to bars and restaurants in the areas.
The added restrictions go into effect in Region 5, which is southern Illinois, on Thursday. Restrictions for Region 7, Will and Kankakee counties, and Region 8, DuPage and Kane counties, go into effect Friday.
During his daily COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, the governor said Illinois State Police have been notified about the new rules for bars and restaurants and will be making the rounds.
“They have the ability to issue citations and also with the information we get at the state level we can take away people’s liquor licenses,” Pritzker said. “It has a semi-permanent effect on a business to take away their liquor license, especially for having not followed the regulations that are set out for them, so it will hard for them to get that license back.”
The number of cases statewide has increased over the last two weeks. On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,342 new COVID-19 cases and 69 related deaths. While many more tests are now being conducted that early in the pandemic, the rate of positive cases has also been climbing.
Pritzker said bars and restaurants have been a hot spot for the spread of coronavirus.
“There are 12 studies that show that bars and restaurants are in fact a major spreading location,” he said.
The move targeting bars and restaurants comes a day after Chicago officials said those businesses were not behind a recent surge of cases in the city. Instead, health officials blamed home gatherings for the spread of the virus.