Earlier today, we discussed the fact that law enforcement agencies around the state of New York were simply refusing to comply with the Governor’s mandate that no more than ten people can attend a private Thanksgiving dinner with their family (or any other gathering) inside their private residence. These are not, however, the only places where the natives have become restless and begun to rise up against oppressive restrictions mandated in response to the novel coronavirus. Out in the Windy City and around the rest of the state, both the Governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Chicago have issued another set of orders that essentially shut down most operations for bars and restaurants yet again. Still reeling from the previous shutdowns and teetering on the brink of fiscal collapse, some owners are telling CBS News that they will not be complying with the orders. For their businesses, it’s simply no longer an option and it’s become a matter of staying in operation or closing permanently.
Some restaurants and bars across Illinois are defying Gov. JB Pritzker’s orders banning indoor dining. It’s not because they don’t believe COVID-19 is real. They say if they shut down it will be for good this time.
Friday night the chefs at Tradycja in Orland Park were busy with carryout orders, but they were serving drinks and Polish food inside, too.
“It’s the worst year ever for me,” said Damian Piekarczyk, owner of Tradycja Polish Fusion Cuisine.
The owners made the executive decision to defy the governor’s executive order. The door remain open, and people are still dining in.
What Damian Piekarczyk is doing isn’t some act of “uprising” based on conspiracy theories or anything else of the kind. He freely admits that the virus is still lurking out there and the danger is real. But he also knows that people have to make up their own minds about what risks they are willing to take and what precautionary measures they wish to employ. He realizes that if he shuts down again, or even has to go to strictly takeout service, he’s going to go bankrupt and his eatery will not be able to reopen. And all of the jobs he provides will disappear along with his business.
Piekarczyk isn’t alone in this decision. Betty Styrczula, the owner of Tradycja Polish Fusion Cuisine told CBS that she really wants her business to survive, but “if we close down again we won’t survive it.” Other owners up and down the popular entertainment district along LaGrange Road have made similar choices. Many have put signs in their windows declaring that they are open for indoor service during their normal hours. And if the government comes to fine them or physically shut them down, that’s a risk they are willing to take.
For his part, the Governor is sticking to his guns and chastising both the businesses who do this and the local elected leaders who turn a blind eye.
“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.
“Also the local leaders I’ve said who are taking no responsibility. In fact, they’re leading others to believe it’s OK if you gather in big groups or have concerts in your bar. It’s OK if you don’t wear masks. That’s just wrong,” he said.
Other owners are firing back, asking why it’s only bars and restaurants being limited in this fashion when gyms, malls, and shopping centers are able to operate. It’s a fair question.
If this was only one restaurant in Chicago defying the order, the state could probably get away with sending in some troopers to issue fines and padlock the doors. But what if it’s ten of them? What if it becomes 100? How long will the public sit on their hands watching uniformed officers nailing shut the doors of employers and putting their workers back out on the streets? It’s increasingly looking like Governor Pritzker may have a revolt on his hands. And if virtually every employer decides to open up, I somehow doubt he can shut them all down and keep them shut. The law enforcement resources required to do that would be staggering even if his state wasn’t already dealing with skyrocketing crime rates.