The Honorable J.B. Pritzker April 29, 2020
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Re: Maintaining Parity for Restaurants, Bars and Drinking Establishments when Reopening Illinois
Dear Governor Pritzker:
The Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (ILBA), which represents over 1,000 bars and taverns across Illinois, appreciates your leadership during this extraordinarily difficult time for our state and nation. Every day at 2:30pm I listen to your state-wide address providing information about the COVID19 crisis in Illinois. Similarly, I have been providing regular updates regarding financial assistance, relief programs, Illinois Liquor Control Commission news, etc. to our ILBA members on a regular basis.
Under normal circumstances, corner bars and taverns are the ones who help their communities by supporting local economies, providing jobs and contributing to numerous nonprofits and charities. In Illinois, direct on-premise alcohol sales annually produce nearly $3.5 billion in economic impact; create more than 63,700 jobs and $1.8 billion in direct wages; and generate over $1.47 billion in tax revenue. But with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, local bars and taverns are in a world of hurt. Forced to close their doors, or severely alter and limit their operations, these Main Street businesses are in the fight of their lives. With the statewide ban on all restaurants, bars, or similar establishments from offering on-premises consumption of food or drinks, Illinois will have lost over 6,500 jobs, $254 million in wages and more than $285 million in beverage alcohol sales in April alone.
As we start to plan for a “new normal”, it is important to remember that bars and taverns will be critical to the much-needed economic growth required to help us emerge from this crisis. But without the opportunity to safely and responsibly reopen on a level-playing field with restaurants and other similarly-situated businesses in Illinois, bars and taverns will be unable to help rebuild their communities and get Americans back to work as the COVID-19 situation subsides. Should they be left behind now, many of them will never open their doors again. Illinois bars and taverns are willing to take the same necessary public safety steps as restaurants when reopening Illinois for business. There is no reason that bars and taverns can’t follow the same measures that restaurants are expected to follow and be included in the same phase of reopening Illinois. In other states, bars and taverns have successfully worked with their governors and reopening task forces to ensure that they are included in the same phase as restaurants of reopening, provided they take the necessary precautions to ensure public safety. In Illinois there is no reason that bars and taverns shouldn’t be able to do the same. After all, these are businesses that are trained in the art and science of the responsible sale and service of age-restricted alcohol products and know what it means to be accountable businesspeople.
Restricting bars and drinking establishments from reopening, while at the same time allowing restaurants that serve alcohol to reopen, would unfairly discriminate against these local businesses and, more importantly, the thousands of employees who rely on the bar and tavern industry for their livelihood. Accordingly, it is critical that bars and taverns and their employees be able to return to work as soon as possible along with other similarly situated businesses.
Thank you for your consideration of our request and your dedication to the hard-working men and women of Illinois during these trying times.
Daniel D. Clausner
Illinois Licensed Beverage Association
 John Dunham & Associates. 2018 Economic Impact Study of America’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Retailers. New York, August 2018.
 John Dunham & Associates. American Beverage Licensees COVID-19 Impact Model. New York, April 2020.