Illinois bars, restaurants rebel against governor's closure orders

'We are standing up for our freedom,' one restaurant says

Some restaurants and bars in Illinois are promising to stay open despite threats from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to shut down establishments that don't follow guidelines and closure orders. 

“It is very serious right now, folks, and if we need to close down restaurants or bars or take away their liquor licenses, take away their gaming licenses, we will do that because we are now headed into a peak that is beyond, potentially, where we were in March and April," Pritzker said at the St. Clair County Health Department Thursday. 

Coronavirus cases are surging in certain parts of the state, as the Department of Public Health announced 4,942 new cases Thursday, a single-day record. Certain parts of the state are now facing news restrictions as a result. 

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Despite Pritzker's threats and the surging cases, some restaurants are adamant that they're staying open no matter what authorities say.

Ki's Steak and Seafood in Glendale Heights railed against "DICTATOR PRITZKER" on Facebook, saying that they will not close down.

"We are standing up for our freedom and WE WILL STAY OPEN! We have been in business for 80+ years and no one is going to tell us we can’t live out the American dream," the restaurant posted.

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Comments on Ki's post are almost universally supportive of the decision to defy Pritzker's orders.

La Hacienda de los Fernandez, a family-owned restaurant that has been open for 45 years in DuPage County, also said on Facebook that it will not close down again.

"We have collectively decided to remain open at all three of our locations in DuPage County,” the restaurant said. "It is time we take a stand for our freedom and our rights. Please support us and dine in."

Many of these restaurants have framed their decision to defy orders and stay open as a matter of survival.

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"Unless the state of Illinois takes a more reasonable approach to mitigation, thousands of restaurants are at risk of permanent closure," Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia said in a statement Thursday. "Closing restaurants for indoor service will result in the exact opposite of the intended impact of slowing the spread, as it drives people further into uncontrolled, unmonitored private gatherings where few safety precautions are in place."

Restaurants and bars have been shown to be infection hotspots during the coronavirus pandemic. A CDC study in September found that people with coronavirus were about twice as likely to have dined out at a restaurant in the two weeks before testing positive. 

Despite that, these restaurants say they're committed to following CDC guidelines while defying the closure orders. 

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For instance, Gina’s Teardrop Cafe in New Lenox said it has to remain open, but will continue taking all possible precautions. 

"This was not an easy decision to make, but one we are making out of survival and to help our staff pay their bills," the restaurant wrote on Facebook. "We will continue to follow the CDC guidelines of wearing masks, social distancing, and sanitation efforts."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.