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Prompted by COVID spike among young peo­ple, Light­foot makes bars, restau­rants, gyms take a step back­ward

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN, CITY HALL RE­PORTER fspiel­man@sun­times.com | @fspiel­man

Mayor Lori Light­foot wasn’t mess­ing around when she warned of a roll­back if young peo­ple didn’t stop their risky be­hav­ior. Now bars, restau­rants, gyms and sa­lons are pay­ing the price.

With the seven-day “rolling av­er­age” of coro­n­avirus cases at 233 — up from 192 a week ago — Light­foot on Mon­day au­tho­rized a se­ries of “sur­gi­cal steps” aimed at pre­vent­ing an even broader re­treat. Ef­fec­tive at 12:01 a.m. Fri­day:

494 bars, tav­erns, brew­eries and other es­tab­lish­ments with­out a re­tail food li­cense that serve al­co­hol for on-site con­sump­tion will be pro­hib­ited from serv­ing cus­tomers in­doors. Of those, 37 have out­door pa­tios. That leaves 450 li­cense hold­ers se­verely im­pacted.

The city is work­ing with those es­tab­lish­ments to find “as much out­door ca­pac­ity as pos­si­ble,” Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor for neigh­bor­hood and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, said Mon­day.

Max­i­mum party size and ta­ble oc­cu­pancy at restau­rants, bars, tav­erns and brew­eries will be re­duced from 10 peo­ple to six.

In­door fit­ness classes will be limited to 10 peo­ple, down from 50 un­der state guide­lines.

Fa­cials, shaves and other per­sonal ser­vices re­quir­ing the re­moval of face cov­er­ings will no longer be per­mit­ted.

Res­i­den­tial prop­erty man­agers will be asked to limit guest en­try to five per unit to avoid in­door gath­er­ings and par­ties. The Chicagolan­d Apart­ment As­so­ci­a­tion has agreed to post no­tices in large apart­ment build­ings sim­i­lar to those warn­ing res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to wear face masks. En­force­ment will be com­plaint-driven, with the De­part­ment of Busi­ness Af­fairs and Con­sumer

Pro­tec­tion vow­ing to “triage” the most egre­gious com­plaints to 311.

Last week, Health Com­mis­sioner Dr. Al­li­son Ar­wady warned of a roll­back if the seven-day rolling av­er­age of new coro­n­avirus cases topped 200. It’s now at 233, which the Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion con­sid­ers a “high in­ci­dence state.” The 14-day av­er­age has topped 200. And the “per­cent pos­i­tiv­ity rate” re­mains over 5%.

“For all of those rea­sons, we felt strongly that it was nec­es­sary to work to take some fo­cused ac­tions now ... to keep us from hav­ing to take the very large steps back­wards that we want to avoid at all costs,” Ar­wady said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with re­porters.

Ar­wady branded bars “one of the higher-risk sce­nar­ios,” in part be­cause they’re a mag­net for 18- to 29-year-olds, among whom cases are ris­ing faster than any other age group in Chicago.

“Peo­ple are not only talk­ing and so­cial­iz­ing and hav­ing fun. They’re of­ten need­ing to raise their voice, project and yell. For all of those rea­sons, they are broadly con­sid­ered one of the higher-risk set­tings,” she said.

“Sim­i­larly where we’ve di­aled back the max­i­mum party size within in­door din­ing from 10 peo­ple to six peo­ple, that’s just rec­og­niz­ing that we want to do what we can to limit the num­ber of folks that peo­ple are hav­ing that close con­tact with within 6 feet, [for] more than 10 min­utes with­out a mask.”

Mayekar said Chicago “re­mains the largest open city in Amer­ica,” and the “sur­gi­cal” re­stric­tions are in­tended to keep it that way, pre­vent­ing an­other stay-at-home shut­down.

“What we’re see­ing is what you

call ‘bub­ble trou­ble,’ where we re­ally need to re­strict the num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als that folks con­gre­gate with. … We need to be more cau­tious there. We’re gonna take a num­ber of mea­sures later this week to specif­i­cally hone in on that pop­u­la­tion,” he said.

Pat Do­err, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the 200-plus-mem­ber Hos­pi­tal­ity Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion of Chicago, said he wants to see the “sci­ence be­hind” the city’s roll­back de­ci­sion.

“The hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try has lost half of its jobs since March in the state of Illi­nois. This brings none of them back to work. This will make it harder for these busi­nesses to hang on. How hard de­pends on how long these re­stric­tions last,” Do­err said.

“Very im­por­tantly, this re­duces max­i­mum ta­ble sizes from 10 to six for ev­ery­one out­doors. Ba­si­cally a 33 to 40% oc­cu­pancy re­duc­tion out­doors is go­ing to be a death blow for way more than bars. That is af­fect­ing ev­ery­one. There might be data to sup­port it. I just haven’t seen it.”

It was just over a month ago that the city al­lowed bars to re­open to serve cus­tomers in open-air set­tings. Then, on June 26, in­door cus­tomers were again al­lowed in restau­rants and bars, with a limit on ca­pac­ity.

Illi­nois Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Sam Toia, while not happy about the roll­back, is will­ing to live with it if it means avoid­ing even more rigid re­stric­tions that force restau­rants to close their doors to in­door din­ing again.

“We do not want to go back to shel­ter-in-place. We see that cities like Mi­ami and San An­to­nio, Phoenix and Los An­ge­les are re­ally go­ing way back­wards,” Toia said.

“If we go into to­tal lock­down like we were a few months ago, this will be the death of the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try in the city of Chicago. So we’d rather work and have some of our out­door din­ing still open and 25% ca­pac­ity in the restau­rant and six peo­ple per ta­ble than to go to to­tal lock­down with no in­door din­ing at all.”

Last week, Light­foot warned of a roll­back un­less young peo­ple, who ac­count for 30% of new COVID-19 cases in the city, get the mes­sage.

“Some of you have joked that I’m like the mom who will turn the car around when you’re act­ing up. No, friends. It’s ac­tu­ally worse. I won’t just turn the car around. I’m gonna shut it off. I’m gonna kick you out. And I’m gonna make you walk home. That’s who I am. That’s who I must be for you and ev­ery­one else in this city to make sure that we con­tinue to be safe,” the mayor said on that day.

On Mon­day, the mayor made no apolo­gies for play­ing the heavy — again.

“While we aren’t near the peak of the pan­demic from ear­lier this year, none of us wants to go back there, and we feel these re­stric­tions will help limit fur­ther com­mu­nity spread,” Light­foot was quoted as say­ing in a press re­lease.

Last week­end, the De­part­ment of Busi­ness Af­fairs and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion con­ducted 70 in­ves­ti­ga­tions and is­sued a dozen ci­ta­tions to six busi­nesses ac­cused of ig­nor­ing the city’s Phase 4 guide­lines.

Com­mis­sioner Rosa Es­careno said the city has: re­ceived nearly 1,700 re­open­ing com­plaints; con­ducted 609 in­ves­ti­ga­tions; is­sued 73 warn­ings and no­tices-to-cor­rect; closed two busi­nesses; and is­sued 36 ci­ta­tions.

The fam­ily of a man who was fa­tally struck by an un­marked Chicago po­lice SUV ear­lier this month filed a wrong­ful death law­suit Mon­day al­leg­ing the of­fi­cers were chas­ing a sus­pect through the West Pull­man neigh­bor­hood when the driver lost con­trol and caused the crash.

About 10:30 p.m. July 8, 33-yearold Mario Win­ters was rid­ing in the 11800 block of South Hal­sted Street when he was struck and killed by the south­bound po­lice ve­hi­cle, of­fi­cials re­ported. The law­suit, which lists both the city and the un­named of­fi­cers as de­fen­dants, seeks over $50,000 in dam­ages.

Po­lice have said the ve­hi­cle’s emer­gency equip­ment was turned on be­fore the crash. How­ever, the at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing Win­ters’ fam­ily claimed the SUV was trav­el­ing at “out-of-con­trol and high rate of speeds” and the of­fi­cers had ac­ti­vated only its lights and not the sirens.

“This case is about one thing: It’s about the will­ful and wan­ton ac­tions — reck­less ac­tions — of Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers driv­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties,” at­tor­ney An­drew Stroth told re­porters Thurs­day as he stood be­side Win­ters’ 6-year-old son and other mem­bers of the fam­ily.

“It re­ally hurts me that this con­tin­ues to hap­pen on the South Side and the West Side of Chicago,” Stroth said. “Would of­fi­cers drive at ex­ces­sive speeds in Lin­coln Park? Would of­fi­cers drive at ex­ces­sive speeds in Old Town or Gold Coast?”

Stroth, who is rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily along­side at­tor­ney An­to­nio Ro­manucci, called on Mayor Lori Light­foot to con­duct a “full in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into the crash and hold the of­fi­cers in­volved ac­count­able.

Win­ters was de­scribed by fam­ily mem­bers as an at­ten­tive and in­volved fa­ther to his five chil­dren.

“He would do any­thing for his chil­dren,” said Vic­to­ria Pow­ell, who has a 1-year-old daugh­ter with Win­ters and filed the suit. “No mat­ter what it was, he never said ‘no.’”

“I just want to know what hap­pened, and why did it hap­pen?” said Pow­ell, tears flow­ing down her face. “I just need some­body to an­swer those ques­tions be­cause he de­serves an­swers. We de­serve an­swers.”

Though Stroth said he be­lieves the of­fi­cers were pur­su­ing an­other ve­hi­cle, it’s un­clear whether the of­fi­cers were in­volved in an ac­tive chase or re­spond­ing to a call for ser­vice. Po­lice didn’t re­spond to ques­tions about the cir­cum­stances of the crash.

The of­fi­cers weren’t im­me­di­ately placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive desk duty, though a de­part­ment spokes­woman pre­vi­ously said that could change pend­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. All three were hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter the col­li­sion.

While Stroth claimed the of­fi­cers failed to fol­low gen­eral or­ders put in place to pro­tect the “sanc­tity of hu­man life,” Ro­manucci noted that the tac­ti­cal ve­hi­cle in­volved in the crash wasn’t re­quired to have a dash­board cam­era rolling un­der those same rules.

“If they’re ex­empt from dash­cam videos, they should be ex­empt from par­tic­i­pat­ing in po­lice pur­suits and chases,” Ro­manucci said be­fore in­vok­ing re­cent of­fi­cer-in­volved fa­tal­i­ties out­side of Chicago.

“We saw the truth all across the coun­try be­cause of video record­ing,” said Ro­manucci. “Will we know the truth as to what hap­pened to Mario?”

Dozens of peo­ple dine out­side Tav­ern on Rush in Gold Coast on the Fourth of July. PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

MAYOR LORI LIGHT­FOOT “WHILE WE AREN’T NEAR THE PEAK OF THE PAN­DEMIC FROM EAR­LIER THIS YEAR, NONE OF US WANTS TO GO BACK THERE, AND WE FEEL THESE RE­STRIC­TIONS WILL HELP LIMIT FUR­THER COM­MU­NITY SPREAD.”

Dr. Al­li­son Ar­wady

An­gel­ica Mann, third from the left, cries dur­ing a news con­fer­ence July 16 out­side the CPD head­quar­ters. AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES

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