May 14, 2020
The Honorable J.B. Pritzker
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Re: Reopening Illinois Bars and Restaurants
Dear Governor Pritzker:
The Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (ILBA), which represents over 1,000 bars and taverns across Illinois, thanks you for your steadfast leadership in guiding our state through this unprecedented health and economic crisis.
In our previous letter, we shared with you just how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic-related and state-mandated closure has been on Illinois’ bars and taverns. We urged you to keep Illinois bars and taverns on a level playing field with restaurants – many of which have bars themselves – by reopening them in the same “phase.” Thank you for including tavern, bar and restaurant reopening together in Restore Illinois.
Now, as we start to see indicators leading to the reopening of businesses in states across the country, and as you continue to evaluate when and how businesses will reopen in Illinois, we want to share a few points for your consideration so that Illinois is not left behind in the nationwide economic recovery that we are all working toward.
- As we are now nearly two-months (since March 16) into the forced closure, many if not most bars and taverns in Illinois are nearing a point where permanent closure is their only option. Fewer bars and taverns open for businesses will hamper the much-needed economic growth required to help Illinois emerge from this crisis.
- Permanent bar and tavern closures mean there will be fewer licensed beverage businesses to provide job opportunities to the 1,023,022 Illinoisans who have lost their jobs since the start of the COVID-19-related business closures.
- Of the states that border Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin have already partially reopened, and Kentucky plans to reopen soon. Illinois bars and taverns are willing to take the same necessary public safety steps as their bar and tavern brothers and sisters in surrounding states when they are allowed to reopen.
- Illinois bars and taverns have been making plans to reopen SAFELY, familiarizing themselves with reopening guidance from the CDC, OSHA and national trade associations, as well as the guidelines put forth by government agencies in states that have already reopened. 
- In other states, bars and taverns have successfully worked with their governors and reopening task forces on the terms for reopening in earlier phases, including limiting occupancy and hours, and making other operational modifications to ensure the safety of their employees and customers.
Every day (now Monday through Friday) at 2:30pm, we listen to your state-wide address providing information about the COVID19 crisis in Illinois. During your Monday, 5/11/2020, question and answer response you indicated that “We’ll alter the (Restore Illinois) playbook, if we need to”. The ILBA has encouraged our members to follow your Executive Orders, while addressing inquiries about Madison County defying and reopening and Wisconsin’s Supreme Court decision in the case of Wisconsin Legislature vs Palm?7 We respectfully request that “the playbook be altered” and bars and restaurants in Illinois have the opportunity to reopen sooner than the June 26, 2020 forecasted date and be on similar footing as our other Midwest counterpart alcohol beverage licensees.
It is critical that Illinois bars and taverns be able to open for business, and their employees be able to return to work, as soon as possible. While we take the public health implications of COVID-19 as seriously as anyone, we also know that there are negative public safety implications for sustained sky-high unemployment, diminished tax revenue from hospitality businesses, and shuttered Main Street Illinois businesses that can’t provide hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents’ their livelihoods.
Thank you for your consideration and please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Daniel D. Clausner
Illinois Licensed Beverage Association
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/pdf/Reopening_America_Guidance.pdf)
 National Restaurant Association (https://restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/business/COVID19-Reopen-Guidance.pdf)
 Iowa Department of Public Health (https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/61/covid19/IDPH%20Reopening%20Guidance%204_27_20.pdf)