Under a new proposal from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s liquor sale curfew will become permanent for some business owners.
A report from the Chicago Sun-Times states that the proposal is part of a “sweeping pandemic relief package” proposed by the mayor, and “would ban sales of packaged liquor products between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. every day except Sunday when they’d start at 8 a.m.”
Lightfoot told reporters after Wednesday’s City Council meeting that there was “room for discussion” regarding the proposal but there are “quality of life issues that sometimes creep up around these businesses,” such as loitering and “other illegal activity.”
The ordinance was part of a massive 94-page “Chi Biz Strong” proposal, which aims to “provide much needed financial relief to thousands of businesses, cut red tape across numerous city processes and deliver new protections for workers and consumers,” according to the mayor’s office.
Among several changes, the proposal would also allow businesses to continue selling cocktails to-go, provide financial relief for certain industries, change the city’s licensing and permitting process, and update the city’s paid sick leave law.
A 9 p.m. liquor sale curfew was initially put in place for stores that sell alcohol early during the coronavirus pandemic in Chicago. That restriction was eased slightly in March, allowing sales of packaged alcohol as late as 11 p.m.
“We understood during the stay-at-home order that the city curbed liquor selling hours for packaged goods sellers to 9 p.m. because folks were not staying at home and there was some concern about hanging out loitering near liquor stores. They wanted to make sure that they clean that up and we wanted to be good partners with the city in doing that and we supported that effort,” said Tanya Triche Dawood, vice president and general counsel with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “We, though, fully thought that our hours would be restored once the city started to reopen and people were allowed to gather. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
Triche said groups have received mix messaging for why the curfew continued even as restrictions lifted in many parts of the city.
“The reasons for the change have varied depending on when you talk to the mayor’s office,” Triche said. “It’s gone from, ‘We don’t want people to loiter’ to ‘People are having parties, and we want to discourage that,’ to ‘We’re having public safety issues.’ It all sounds like a ploy to treat liquor stores, convenience stores, and some grocers that stay open late as second-class citizen license holders in the city of Chicago. And we reject that and we will oppose it.”
The measure was not voted on by City Council Wednesday, and Ald. James Cappleman, a sponsor of the proposal, tweeted Wednesday afternoon that the portion of the ordinance limiting liquor sales “was supposed to have already been removed.”
“It will be removed before it goes for a vote,” he tweeted. “The goal is to help our businesses, not hurt them.
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