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Illinois Governor Keeps Dine-In Restaurants and Bars Closed Until June

Starting on May 1, restaurant and store workers will also have to wear face coverings in certain situations

Hillary Clinton Speaks At Ida’s Legacy Fundraiser Luncheon In Chicago
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

As expected, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has extended the state’s stay-at-home order until June, and that means non-essential businesses — including bars and dine-in restaurants — will remain closed until May 30. This is the second time the governor has extended his executive order. The first was issued on March 20 and was set to expire April 7. On March 31, Pritzker extended the order through the end of April.

“I know how badly we want our normal lives back,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing. “Believe me, if I could make that happen right now, I would.”

The amended order, which goes in the effect on May 1, has one key change that affects restaurants, grocery and liquor stores. Starting on that date, anyone older than the age of two years old (and medically able) is required to wear a face covering in situations where they can’t abide by the six-foot social distancing rule. Workers inside cramped restaurant kitchens or those navigating narrow store aisles would have to wear masks under Pritzker’s changes.

Restaurant and all business owners will have to provide coverings to their employees.

“Face coverings work and we need all Illinoisians to do their part,” the governor said.

Pritzker added that he will not encourage local police to take drastic steps to enforce the require. He also put the responsibility of wearing coverings on the owner of the business, meaning they need to remind customers of the requirement.

A sushi chef preps fish in his kitchen.
Kyoten chef Otto Phan wears a mask while making sushi.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Under the order, some businesses — like health care providers, grocery and liquor stores, and restaurants with takeout and delivery — could remain open. In Chicago, the restaurant industry gone through several phases with some restaurants offering carryout for the first time, others attempting to stay open only to close, and others more recently announcing they have reopened in a limited capacity. A handful of other restaurants have also announced they’re permanently closed.

Dine-in restaurants and bars have stayed closed since March 17 as elected officials try to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. Pritzker was optimistic that the worst has passed, urging his constituents to deal with restrictions for a little while longer. To date, the disease has 36,934 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,688 disease-related deaths in Illinois.

Before Pritzker’s announcement, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a news conference in front of the historic Water Tower downtown. During the conference she unveiled a new COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force whose goals include improving mental health and business and marketing development for Chicagoans.

“That’s what this task force is all about: framing out and assessing the damage that has been done, the harm — both in economic terms and social, emotional terms — and then building a framework for us to transition out of stay at home when that time is right,” Lightfoot said.

The task force’s members include Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinckle and Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investment. None of its members work in the hospitality industry.

Pritzker also announced that on May 1 officials would begin reopening state parks and that non-essential retail stores could begin taking phone or online orders to offer customers curbside pickup.