CHICAGO (CBS) — Small business owners that took a hit with the canceled St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are now fearing even more of a financial struggle with Gov. JB Pritzker’s latest mandate ordering the closure of all Illinois restaurants and bars.
As CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported, the nonexistent crowds were very apparent Sunday in Beverly. Business owners made changes to plans as the hours passed on.
The sound of Irish music filled the air Sunday outside Americanos, 11060 S. Western Ave.
It was really the only sign of fanfare and bar-goers on the usually-bustling Western Avenue.
“They followed the rules. They’re not sick. They’re washing their hands, hand sanitizer – they’re doing what everyone is supposed to do,” said bar owner Cynthia Castillo.
A maximum capacity quickly turned from 225 to 100. The on-the-fly changes happened in quick response to increased mandates from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to reduce crowds amid the coronavirus outbreak.
It also came after hordes of people swarmed city bars during St. Patrick’s Day events on Saturday – despite being warned not to.
There were safety precautions that business owners like Castillo hoped would be enough.
“Inform people to just stay home if they’re sick, wash your hands, follow the rules. And don’t close down establishments. It hurts us. It hurts small businesses,” she said. “We’ve been taking extra precautions to clean.”
But now with Gov. Pritzker’s closure mandate to slow COVID-19, family-run bars like the End Zone, 10036 S. Western Ave., already feared a slow St. Patrick’s Day with the canceled parade. Now, the addition of days of closed doors means a rough road ahead.
“This is one of the biggest days of the year, so it’s hard when you don’t have this many people,” said bartender Valerie Bartoli. “We all have bills to pay, so it will affect all of us.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot reiterated Sunday that the latest directive is a move to save lives. She urged people that less activity at bars should translate into people staying home.