Illinois governor orders bars and restaurants to close

March 15, 2020 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday ordered all bars and restaurants in the state to close for two weeks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Pritzker ordered that the shutdown run from the close of business Monday through March 30. The action came after crowds filled restaurants and bars around the state Saturday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Sunday there were 93 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

Pritzker said he tried earlier this week to appeal to everyone’s good judgment to stay home, to avoid bars, and not to congregate in crowds. He added that it’s unfortunate many people didn’t take that seriously.

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“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over,” the governor said. “This is not a joke. No one is immune to this.”

Pritzker said drive-thrus will remain open and he’s working with food services and restaurants so they can keep their kitchens open.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said he’s working with state and local officials to help restaurants and their employees during the two-week shutdown.

“We want to protect the health of our customers and our team numbers,” Toia said.

Toia said the organization will keep advocating for economic relief for restaurant employees and small businesses.

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