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Morton Grove Mayor Fires Off Letter To Gov. Pritzker, Questions Why Bars And Restaurants Must Stop Indoor Dining Over COVID-19

MORTON GROVE, Ill. (CBS) -- The mayor of Morton Grove was not holding back Wednesday about the ban on indoor dining that Gov. JB Pritzker has imposed on suburban Cook County – as well as all the rest of the Chicago metro area – due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Morton Grove Mayor Daniel DiMaria fired off a letter to Gov. Pritzker about the plan.

The letter says in part: "Let me be blunt. Your recent order to close indoor service in bars and restaurants is an unnecessary, heavy-handed deathblow to these businesses and must be reconsidered."

DiMaria wrote that when the state closed bars and restaurants across the board last month, many business owners were unable to make rent and payments and lost their life savings. But he wrote that some businesses began to see relief – first with outdoor service and then with limited indoor dining – as more was learned about the virus.

He noted that cases remained largely flat through the summer, but began surging this month.

"If this increase was caused by restaurants and bars, we would have seen these numbers of up much earlier," DiMaria wrote.

He also wrote that increased hospitalization rates are expected as we approach colder weather and flu season, and claimed that 75 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 come from assisted living facilities while fewer than 2 percent are restaurant workers.

"I do not understand why casinos, shopping centers, big box stores, and most significantly our schools are still allowed to operate, but our restaurants aren't allowed to serve customers indoors," DiMaria wrote.

Last week, Pritzker said repeatedly that the data on the subject are clear, and spread of the virus does indeed happen at bars and restaurants.

"We're working very hard, but we need everybody's help in the public. We need the restaurant owners and bar owners to follow the mitigations, and to stop fighting and trying to find some flaw in the data, trying to find somebody who will say that a bar or restaurant is not a spreading location," Pritzker said last Thursday. "Bars and restaurants are seriously places where spreading takes place. They're one of the top places that spreading takes place."

CBS 2 reached out to the governor's office specifically about DiMaria's letter, but there was no response late Wednesday.

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