Pritzker asks for federal help for Illinois restaurants and bars


Gov. J.B. Pritzker is reaching out for help for the beleaguered restaurant and bar industry, the same industry facing restrictions from his state-imposed mitigations.

“I want to urge the Congress to step up and include in the stimulus package support for restaurants and bars that have been so hard hit by the virus,” said Pritzker Tuesday at his daily COVID-19 briefing.

The Pritzker administration has said that bars and restaurants are one hotspot for the spread of the coronavirus. In November, the governor imposed Tier 3 mitigations, which closed all indoor service at establishments across the state and allowed for only outdoor dining. Owners contend that it is not feasible considering December temperatures usually hover in the thirties and lower for many parts of the state.

“Restaurants and bars will have a tough time making it through this winter surge of the virus without federal support,” Pritzker said.

The governor announced Monday that dining out in Illinois will continue to be banned for at least the next few weeks. But some restaurants continue to thumb their nose at the restrictions not fearing any repercussions.

McHenry County is one example, where several restaurants continue to offer indoor service. The state’s attorney in the county won’t enforce the ban, saying the governor has overstepped his bounds and the legislature has under-delivered, creating what he calls a dangerous combination.

Several mayors and law enforcement officials also have said they will not enforce the ban on indoor service.

Those that follow the rules also face challenges. The Independent Restaurant Coalition reports that one in six U.S. restaurants already has closed for good due to COVID-19, and that number could grow to one in three by year’s end.

The National Restaurant Association cited U.S. Census Bureau data indicating a seasonally adjusted decline in the restaurant business in October, the first decline since the industry began rebounding from the first wave of shutdowns in the spring.

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