Residents of the Windy City must be feeling like they’re starring in a very less funny version of Groundhog Day at this point. Having already trudged down this road in the spring and again during the summer, yesterday Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she was reinstating a 10 pm curfew and placing additional restrictions on bars and most restaurants in Chicago. This was purportedly done in response to a new surge in COVID-19 cases around the city. The owners of bars without food licenses were particularly hard hit, with many of them having spent huge amounts of money to comply with new social distancing requirements so they could legally reopen after the last round of shutdowns. And just in case there was too much grumbling, Lightfoot warned everyone that if she has to take the city all the way back to the original phase one total lockdown, that’s what she’s going to do. (ABC7 News, Chicago)

New Chicago COVID-19 restrictions, including a business curfew and a ban on indoor service for bars without a food license, take effect Friday.

The action from Mayor Lori Lightfoot comes days after a warning about surging COVID-19 cases in the city, with the average number of daily cases approaching 700.

As part of the new rules, bars without food licenses again cannot have indoor service. All liquor sales at all establishments must end at 9 p.m.

Non-essential businesses must close from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and take-out restaurants, will be allowed to operate.

On top of those restrictions for bars and eateries, the Mayor told the city’s residents to not gather in groups larger than six, and all social gatherings after 10 pm were to be verboten.

Saying that she was going to do “whatever it takes to save lives,” Lightfoot even invoked the phrase “shelter in place” as something she “will not hesitate to do” if that’s what it takes. But considering the luck that Chicago’s police had in stopping “COVID parties” in their city over the summer, prospects for broad compliance with these new orders look dubious at best. Owners of bars without a food license who were interviewed by ABC News said that most of them don’t have enough space for outdoor seating in the volume required to be profitable. On top of that, the weather conditions are already deteriorating as winter approaches and people don’t want to sit outside and drink. Their options are far fewer than those of establishments with a food service license.

If the Mayor wants to go back to issuing lockdowns, perhaps she could start by locking down Chicago’s gangs. There were dozens of shootings this week, with 12 shot and two dead on Thursday alone. Oddly, the gangbangers don’t seem to be terribly community-minded or inclined to obey the Mayor’s executive orders. There are more people dying in Chicago from “lead poisoning” contracted via illegal handguns than there are from COVID-19.

But returning to the original subject, Chicago is very likely just a microcosm of what we can expect as we get closer to Winter. Are we going to be seeing returns to full-blown lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders in all of our cities every time there’s a flare-up of novel coronavirus cases? Will we be seeing those orders extended even if the number of actual deaths and hospitalizations continues to be far below what they were during the original surge in the spring? I can’t help but wonder how much longer people are going to put up with this. America isn’t a country like North Korea where the citizens are used to being clamped down like prisoners by their own government. A free society will always itch for freedom of movement and bristle at these sorts of authoritarian mandates.