Chicago breaks up indoor parties, cites businesses for violating COVID restrictions

COVID parties
The Vault hosted an illegal party over the weekend, Chicago officials say. Photo credit Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — City authorities say they broke up an illegal party with about 300 attendees over the weekend in a basement venue on Chicago’s North Side.

The Wicker Park location, identified as The Vault/All Access, was one of several businesses cited for violations amid the continuing ban on indoor service during the pandemic.

When police were called to a basement in the 1600 block of West Division Street, attendees were not socially distancing or wearing face coverings, according to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).

City representatives issued five cease-and-desist orders for illegal business activity, nine citations for violating COVID-19 regulations, failure to have proper business licenses, smoking indoors, and operating sparklers indoors; and closure orders to the business for dangerous and hazardous conditions, including no smoke alarms, no carbon monoxide detectors, and no fire extinguishers.

Over the past month, the city conducted nearly 900 investigations and issued 20 citations and 54 notices to bars, restaurants and other businesses for allowing indoor dining or drinking, officials said. Additionally, since Oct. 30, the city has issued one-day closure orders to nine businesses, four of which were also issued long-term closure orders for egregiously violating the COVID-19 regulations.

"While the vast majority of Chicago's businesses are doing the right thing and following the COVID-19 regulations, it is incredibly disheartening to see some establishments continue to egregiously and blatantly disregard the guidelines and put our entire community at risk," said Rosa Escareno, BACP Commissioner. "Actions like this are a slap in the face to the thousands of businesses and millions of Chicagoans that are making sacrifices every day to keep our city safe, and we will continue cracking down on this inexcusable activity."

The following establishments have been issued one-day closure orders since Oct. 30 for egregious and/or repeated violations of the COVID-19 regulations:

—Chicago Sports Complex, 2600 W. 35th St., which allegedly hosted a party with more than 600 attendees.

—Wildberry Pancake, 196 E. Pearson St., for allegedly allowing indoor dining.

—The Ballroom, 6351-59 S. Cottage Grove Ave., for hosting a party with more 200 attendees.

—Fat Fat Fish Bar & Grill, 234-236 W 31st St., for allegedly “egregiously violating” social distancing and the face covering guidelines, on its outdoor patio.

The cited businesses must remain closed and work with BACP on reopening plans, the agency said.

Since March, BACP has conducted over 6,500 COVID-19 investigations and cited over 330 businesses for violating the regulations.

To help businesses understand the COVID-19 regulations, BACP has held over 150 webinars and called over 30,000 businesses directly to inform them of the guidelines.