Like clockwork, another Democrat governor who placed severe restrictions on their state has begun easing lockdowns now that President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday that Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) has lifted some coronavirus restrictions in Chicago, allowing restaurants and bars that serve food to reopen for indoor services at 25% capacity.
“Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team officially gave the green light Saturday for restaurants and most bars across Chicago and suburban Cook County to invite customers back inside for indoor service,” the outlet reported. “A day after officials said both regions were ‘on track’ for limited reopening, the city and Cook County suburbs saw their coronavirus infection rates improve for a third straight day to officially move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 of the state’s COVID-19 mitigation plan.”
The outlet reported that “coronavirus testing positivity rates and hospital admissions” are down to their lowest levels since October, when restrictions were put back in place ahead of the presidential election.
Bars and restaurants must still close by 11 p.m., and they can’t open until 6 a.m. the next day. The businesses can’t accept reservations over two hours and can seat parties no larger than four people. Customers are also required to wear masks except when “actively” eating or drinking, the Sun-Times reported.
In addition to bars and restaurants, the easing also allows gyms to operate at 50% capacity.
“The risk of a resurgence in Illinois, particularly with extremely contagious new variants, is serious,” Pritzker said on Friday. “Our ability to have limited indoor restaurant service and to restart youth sports could be cut short if we aren’t extremely careful.”
Cases in Illinois began rising at the end of October. On November 6, the Illinois Department of Public Health started combining the number of probable and confirmed cases when releasing new case totals, causing a massive jump in the alleged number of new cases and leading to widespread state lockdowns.
Chicago’s restaurant owners began defying Pritzker’s orders long before the restrictions were eased. In December, the Ann Sather restaurant, owned by Democrat Ald. Tom Tunney, was found to have violated the state’s orders, The Daily Wire reported. Tunney told the Chicago-Sun Times that he made a mistake.
“We have, on occasion, sat regular diners in the back of the restaurant,” he told the outlet. “I acknowledge that. It’s not OK. I made a mistake, and I’m owning up to it. I should have not sat regular customers in my restaurant whatsoever.”
“I have a lot of repeat customers over the years,” Tunney continued. “On a sporadic basis, I have let regular customers — very few and far between — in my store. I made an error.”
He then hung up.
An employee later told a reporter that “somebody ratted us out.”
Pritzker faced a backlash in May 2020 when he tried to make reopening during the pandemic a “Class A misdemeanor,” The Daily Wire reported.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot defied her own restrictions and statements about COVID-19 when she attended a large celebration after Biden was elected president, telling reporters the “crowd was gathered whether I was there or not.”
Illinois’ reopening plan comes after New York and Michigan’s governors made statements about reopening their economies.