Chicago Alderman Apologizes for Violating Coronavirus Rules, Allowing Diners in His Restaurant

Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney poses inside his main Ann Sather restaurant, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in Chicago. Social distancing requirements have curtailed revenue and the PPP loan Tunney got was quickly spent paying staff at the restaurants that are neighborhood breakfast and brunch stalwarts. Tunney dipped into proceeds of real …
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney has apologized for an “error in judgment” after hosting diners inside his near Northside restaurant in violation of the city’s coronavirus rules.

The 44th Ward alderman faced criticism for allowing customers to eat inside his Lakeview Ann Sather restaurant on Belmont in violation of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s coronavirus ban on indoor dining in the Windy City.

Citizens on social media blew the whistle on the alderman for continuing to allow his closest customers to eat inside his establishment without requiring them to wear masks or to practice social distancing. On Monday, Tunney admitted to the rumors that he had not shut down his restaurant in obedience to the mayor’s shutdown orders.

“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, according to Chicago’s CBS affiliate.

Mayor Lightfoot has banned indoor dining since October 30 as the city faces a second wave of coronavirus infections. The mayor ordered all indoor facilities to be closed and ruled that restaurants may only serve outdoors, delivery, drive-thru, curbside, and takeout orders.

For her part, Mayor Lightfoot slammed Tunney and hinted that she might take action against him for the violations. “Any business found in violation of these guidelines has been and will be held fully accountable. No exceptions,” the mayor said in a statement.

“Our COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions apply to every single individual and establishment in Chicago so that we can further ensure the health and safety of our residents,” Lightfoot added.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker also criticized Tunney, calling the alderman’s actions a “tremendous lapse in judgment.

“I also will say that elected officials should be setting an example, not creating the example that people may follow that will spread coronavirus. We have mitigations in place for a reason. We have asked everybody to follow them, and frankly, most restaurants and bars have followed them,” the governor said.

Through November 30, the city has issued 20 citations to establishments violating the city’s coronavirus orders and 54 “notices to correct.” Nine businesses have also been ordered wholly shut down for violating the policies.

Tunney could face a $10,500 fine for breaking the mayor’s rules.

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