As the state’s death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak increased to 99, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday afternoon announced he would extend Illinois’s stay-at-home order to April 30. The original order — which only allowed essential businesses, like hospitals, drugstores, and grocery stores to be open — was to expire April 7. Under the directive, bars must stay closed, but restaurants can offer delivery and carryout.
Restaurants and bars have been closed since March 16, thanks to Pritzker’s original mandate which ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms and for bars to shut down through March 30. After the governor closed down bars and dining rooms, he made the stay-at-home order which went into effect on March 21. Since the orders have been in place, restaurant owners have grappled with the pressure of keeping their doors open versus safety concerns.
One Off Hospitality Group initially bulked up its carryout and delivery options at places like Big Star, Avec, and Violet Hour. But last week, the company announced it was suspending delivery and takeout operations. One Off’s Paul Kahan cited safety concerns in an interview with Eater Chicago. In general, he said not enough people took the public health threat seriously, and that included some of his restaurants’s customers. Some diners would ignore social distancing requirements, and put the staff risk, Kahan said.
The stay-at-home extension will keep restaurants closed until May. That development isn’t a surprise to most restaurant owners Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have hinted at an extension. Whenever restaurants get the green light, it’s going to to take time to reopen. Lawrence Letrero, of Bayan Ko, said his Filipino and Cuban restaurant is an efficient operation on the North Side. He would need about two days before he’d be ready to open. Kahan said it would take his restaurants a little longer. It would be like opening a restaurant for the first time, they’d start with dinner and would late expand their hours.