Chicago orders 10 p.m. business curfew amid virus' 'second surge'

Gatherings limited to six people, all changes in Chicago take place Friday

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago businesses will have to close by 10 p.m. and residents are asked to limit gatherings to six people as the number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases among residents continues to rise, the city’s mayor announced Thursday.

“We are — no doubt whatsoever — in a second surge,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "This is what it looks like.”

Lightfoot also announced that bars without food licenses must stop serving customers indoors and liquor sales citywide must end at 9 p.m. The curfew doesn't apply to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other essential businesses.

All of the changes take effect Friday.

The number of statewide cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, set another single-day record Thursday, with 4,942, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. There were 44 additional deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 9,387, among 360,159 confirmed infections.

Lightfoot warned earlier this week that rising numbers of new confirmed cases could lead to reinstated restrictions on the city's economy. As of Thursday, Lightfoot said the city was reporting an average of 645 new cases during the past seven days.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the city's Department of Public Health, warned that the rate of growth of confirmed cases in recent days compares to what the city saw in March and April. Chicago and the rest of Illinois were under a statewide stay-at-home order for about two months beginning in mid-March.

“If we need to take further steps ... even going back to shelter in place, I'm not going to hesitate to do that," Lightfoot said. "I hope that won't be necessary, but it's all in your hands.”

Other parts of the state are facing similar restrictions imposed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. They include allowing only outdoor bar and restaurant service which must end at 11 p.m. and limiting gatherings to 25 or fewer people. Of 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions in the state, Region 1, in northwestern Illinois, has had tougher restrictions since Oct. 3. The same rules started Thursday for Region 5, in far southern Illinois, and start Saturday for four populous suburban Chicago counties comprising Regions 7 and 8.

___ O'Connor reported from Springfield, Illinois.