by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producerBy CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — One day after city officials said Ald. Tom Tunney’s Ann Sather restaurant in Lakeview would face up to $10,500 in possible fines after he admitted letting people dine inside in defiance of city and state COVID-19 restrictions, Mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed the 44th Ward alderman would “absolutely be held accountable.”

“I have spoken with Alderman Tunney. He alerted me earlier this week about the issue. Obviously, I’m deeply disappointed. I’ve known Tom Tunney for 25-plus years, I consider him a friend, and he understands what he did was absolutely wrong,” Lightfoot said.

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On Monday, Tunney admitted he had allowed some regular customers to dine inside his Ann Sather location in Lakeview despite the statewide ban on indoor dining at restaurants, calling it an “error in judgment.”

“On a sporadic basis, we have allowed a very limited number of our regular diners to eat inside the restaurant while observing social distancing and mask-wearing rules. This was error in judgement and won’t happen again,” Tunney said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said it had issued the restaurant two citations for violating the indoor dining ban. The amount of the fine Tunney faces will be determined at an administrative hearing, but one citation carries a fine of up to $10,000 and the other carries a fine of up to $500.

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Lightfoot said she’s heard from many other restaurant owners about the various restrictions that have been placed on their businesses throughout the year, and said the most consistent message they’ve sent is “just be fair, mayor” and make sure people are held accountable when they break the rules.

“The alderman knows that he did wrong. He will absolutely be held accountable; zero exceptions for that, but I understand the anger and the frustration, because this has been such an incredibly hard year. People have bent over backwards to play by the rules and the vast majority have been,” she said.

While Tunney has called his decision to allow indoor dining at his restaurant an “error in judgment,” Lightfoot was more blunt in her assessment of his violation.

“Alderman Tunney understands that he made an intentional decision to break the rules. He didn’t just break them as a businessperson, he broke them as an alderman who swore an oath to live and abide by a higher set of standards than the average person. And that’s one of the things I’ve been hearing a lot from people, that’s made them really angry and animated about this,” she said.

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