Desperate Illinois restaurant owners defy Gov Pritzker’s indoor dining ban: ‘We won’t survive it’

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Some restaurants and bars in Illinois are defying Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s most recent order banning indoor dining as COVID-19 cases rise in the state because they say they have to remain open or shut their doors for good.

Late last week, chefs at Tradycja in Orland Park in Chicago were busy preparing carry-out orders, but the eatery was also serving drinks and Polish food inside as well, CBSChicago reported.

“It’s the worst year ever for me,” Damian Piekarczyk, owner of Tradycja Polish Fusion Cuisine, told the CBS affiliate after a decision was made to defy Pritzker’s order.

“If you don’t want to come to the restaurant and sit and eat and just let go. If you don’t feel safe then stay home. Let people choose,” he said.

The local affiliate reported that there are several restaurants along LaGrange Road to eat, with a few of them advertising clearly that they are letting customers come inside to eat for the third time this year.

“We really want to survive it, and we close down again we won’t survive it,” Betty Styrczula with Tradycja Polish Fusion Cuisine said.

Nevertheless, Pritzker appeared unmoved by the struggling businesses last week when he doubled down on the closure orders.

“What will it take to make things real for you? Do we have to report a rate of 50% like we’re seeing in Iowa today?” Pritzker said Thursday.

He added to that view on Friday.

“Also the local leaders I’ve said who are taking no responsibility. In fact, they’re leading others to believe it’s okay if you gather in big groups or have concerts in your bar. It’s okay if you don’t wear masks. That’s just wrong,” he said, according to CBSChicago.

But while Pritzker is demanding that restaurants and other businesses shutter again to indoor customer traffic and families avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings as well as nonessential travel, he was “coy about where he is planning to spend the holiday,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

A resident of Chicago, Pritzker was asked if he planned to abide by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s travel advisory. Finally, after back-and-forth with reporters, he was asked point-blank by NBC 5′s Mary Ann Ahern if he was going to remain in Chicago over the holiday.

“That is my hope, but I will let you know,” he said.

At Tradycja, owners want to know why Pritzker’s order only applies to restaurants.

“You can catch corona in the gym, store, mall, everywhere. Why do we have to close, but the rest of the businesses can be open?” Damian said.

Meanwhile, an analysis by The Wall Street Journal found that nearly 300 businesses that took in about a half-billion dollars worth of federal Paycheck Protection Plan loans have since had to file bankruptcy.

The companies, which employed about 23,400, said the PPP funding alone without follow-on funding was not enough to keep their doors open as pandemic-related closures and other work stoppages endured.

“The total number of companies that failed despite getting PPP loans is likely far higher. The Journal only analyzed the big borrowers from the program,” the paper reported.

One of Democrat Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisers, Dr. Michael Osterholm, is already pushing a national lockdown of four-to-six weeks, though it’s unclear whether the presumed president-elect has the constitutional authority to order one.

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Jon Dougherty

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