Chicago officials crack down on bars, restaurants that sell alcohol due to coronavirus

Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Officials in Chicago have announced new restrictions for bars, and restaurants that sell alcohol, in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the city and suburbs.

After St. Patrick’s Day revelers flooded bars amid the coronavirus outbreak, the city on Sunday cut in half the capacity of all businesses that serve booze and set a hard cap of 100 people at establishments with liquor licenses.

The new directives from the city also prohibit establishments from lining up customers outside.

The move comes as Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he is considering shutting down bars and restaurants across the state altogether amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

During a news conference Sunday at O’Hare Airport, Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged that was a possibility but said the city was giving business owners a chance to comply with the new directives.

Chicago officials released the following important statement Sunday morning:

"Due to concerns of St. Patrick’s Day festivities continuing through St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, the City today issued new precautionary measures and guidelines to enforce large gatherings at bars and liquor establishments throughout Chicago. As part of the City's efforts to keep residents safe and healthy, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) are enforcing all business establishments that sell liquor to have less than half of their regular max capacity. Additionally, any establishments that sell liquor will have a max capacity of 100 persons.

As part of these measures to limit large gatherings, the City is also requiring business owners to discontinue lining patrons up who are waiting for entry outside of establishments and on the public way. BACP and CPD are working with local entrepreneurs and business owners to ensure they're monitoring the new requirements, and the Departments will issue citations to owners if any establishment fails to enforce the new capacity limits.

Last week, City announced new guidance on large gatherings, mandating that events exceeding 1,000 individuals be cancelled and recommending that community events of 250 people or more should be cancelled or postponed. Additionally, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is reminding people of health guidance on large gatherings and social distancing, and reiterating that everyone has a role to play in helping contain the spread of COVID-19.

For those planning to attend a large gathering or event, CDPH recommends common sense health and safety tips, and social distancing:

-Do not attend any events or gatherings if you are sick. If you are sick, just stay home.
-Vulnerable populations, including older individuals and those with underlying health conditions, should limit travel and should not attend large gatherings.
-If you do attend an event, use common sense about your interactions and practice social distancing techniques.

For events that aren’t cancelled, CDPH strongly encourages that event organizers provide additional hand sanitizer and hand washing stations, and conduct additional cleaning, including for high touch surface areas like counter tops and handrails.

The best way for all Chicagoans to reduce their risk of getting sick, as with seasonal colds or the flu, still applies to prevent COVID-19. Stay home if you are sick, wash your hands, and cover your cough or sneeze! Stay tuned for the latest news on the City’s efforts to combat COVID-19 by visiting"


On Saturday, more coronavirus cases were announced in Illinois, bringing the state total to 66.

RELATED: Chicago bars packed with St. Patrick's revelers in spite of coronavirus

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.