Watch CBS News

A Look At How Businesses Are Being Scrutinized To Ensure They're Following Chicago's COVID-19 Operating Rules

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The enforcement of Chicago's travel quarantine rule for the coronavirus is not exactly well-defined – Mayor Lori Lightfoot said some tickets have been issued for failure to quarantine after traveling from specified states, but how are travelers being tracked in the first place?

By comparison, the city's 60,000 businesses are under a regimented watch. CBS 2's Lauren Victory dug into how shops, restaurants, gyms, and more are scrutinized.

"We are cracking down," Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno said recently.

Escareno and her business compliance investigators are done playing nice. They have hosted dozens of virtual learning opportunities advising businesses of the rules, and have also made around 80,000 calls to help Chicago business owners understand COVID-19 guidelines.

And yet, Escareno said: "We had a record number of complaints within a very short period of time. The time for awareness was over and now is the time for adhering to the rules."

That means enforcement and a list of citations CBS 2 requested shows the department has been busy.

Confirmed and common violations include: "failed to have customers follow social distancing," "failed to wear mask inside," and "selling liquor after 9 p.m."

More than 70 places were being whacked for being open, but non-essential, including a fur storage company, a dog grooming business, and a yoga studio.

In all, there were 297 citations after more than 1,200 investigations.

Punishment could be as high as $10,000, but we found most businesses that are already settled only paid $500.

Does Escareno feel like her department is going far enough?

"Businesses are hurting at this time and our goal has been very proactive, and we try to work with the businesses," she said, "and the citations are really a last resort."

The fines and the threats seem to be working. But the commissioner said they are causing another trend.

"People are now resorting to going to places that are not properly licensed," Escareno said.

BACP now monitors social media posts as part of a new party-busting task force.

Efforts are always evolving, just like the city's response to the virus.

A total of 38 investigations over the past weekend led to the shutdown of four restaurants and a nightclub. The closures are temporary.

Businesses are required to submit a reopening plan to show they have learned from their mistakes.

On Thursday, the Morning Insiders will show you the changes one West Loop bar made after getting slapped by BACP.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.