This week, the city of Chicago fined eight local businesses a total of $120,000 for disobeying the current stay-at-home order. According to Book Club Chicago, the city has conducted almost 700 investigations into businesses since the order went into effect on March 21. During a press conference on April 8, the commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Rosa Escareno, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is becoming more strict about enforcing the stay-at-home order. As part of that effort, beginning Thursday, April 9, liquor stores will have a 9 p.m. curfew. If you are a business owner or know one who has received a citation or been fined, contact a criminal defense attorney today to understand your rights and next steps.
Details of the order
The stay-at-home order is a response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and is in effect until April 30. It requires non-essential businesses to close for the time being. It also says essential businesses that do stay open must enforce social distancing. This means patrons have to maintain six to ten feet of distance between each other. The order is mandatory and applies to the entire state of Illinois.
Failing to comply
Among the businesses cited and fined this week were a gym and a bar that failed to close. A grocery store was also fined for poor social distancing management. Since the order began, a hookah bar, a yoga studio, a crossfit gym and several restaurants have been fined for failing to close their doors to patrons. (Restaurants are only allowed to provide carry-out and delivery service.)
Neighbors, employees, and patrons have been asked to call 311 to report a business defying the stay-at-home order.
The new 9 p.m. curfew for liquor stores is an attempt to further limit the number of people out and about during the pandemic. Recently, on March 26, Mayor Lightfoot closed down the Lakefront Trail, the Chicago Riverwalk, and the 606. Not only could liquor stores and bars lose their liquor license for failing to comply with these new restrictions, residents ignoring the order can be ticketed and fined, as well.
Businesses cited and fined for violating the stay-at-home order could end up paying between $2,000 and $10,000 to the city of Chicago. Individuals disobeying the order can expect a warning, though fines (up to $500) and arrests have already been made. In some cases, it could even result in a misdemeanor charge.
The Chicago Police Department and Mayor Lightfoot have made it clear that they intend to crack down even further on violators in the coming days. If you, your business, or someone you know has been charged with violating the stay-at-home order, contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates for a free consultation.