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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Chicago’s 10pm liquor sales curfew might become permanent

It's one of many potential changes included in the mayor's new business initiative.

Emma Krupp
Written by
Emma Krupp

How many times over the past year have you run to the grocery store to grab a six pack—or whatever you plan on drinking that evening—only to find that liquor sales have already ended for the night by the time you arrive? As you may recall, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot implemented a controversial 9pm liquor sales curfew in April of last year to discourage gatherings during the pandemic, with hefty fines in place for bars and shops in violation of the rule. The curfew was eventually pushed back to 11pm last fall, but it's still a far cry away from the pre-pandemic limits of 2am or 3am. 

Now that liquor sales curfew might become permanent under the mayor's new "Chi Biz Strong Initiative," which would implement a permanent 10pm cut-off for booze sales and a 7am resumption (grocery stores won't be able to sell liquor until 8am on Sundays), among many other changes to city laws related to businesses and workers. The proposal, which the Mayor's Office has touted as a post-pandemic recovery packages, would also allow restaurants to continue offering to-go cocktails and cap fees charged by third-party delivery apps. 

"In order to recover from this pandemic quickly and holistically, we must take bold action and reimagine how we do business here in Chicago," Lightfoot said in a news release. The release justifies the implementation of the liquor sales curfew by stating that the limitation will "address public safety and nuisance issues by limiting the nighttime sale of package goods."

Many of the initiative's details are less controversial than the liquor sales curfew: Other potential changes include more financial and debt relief (by way of grants) for businesses impacted by the pandemic, an expedited restaurant licensing process, legalizing A-frame sidewalk signs for advertising purposes and a new wage theft ordinance aimed at protecting workers from stolen wages. 

City Council will eventually have to sign off on the initiative in order for the changes to go into effect, so you're free to grab booze until 11pm for the moment—enjoy that extra hour of availability while you still can. 


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