Emergency Suspension of Liquor Licenses
Yesterday, the Governor announced that Will and Kankakee Counties — known as Illinois' Region 7 — will be rolling back to phase three of the state-wide reopening plan due to rising numbers of COVID cases. The new rules take effect on August 26, 2020 and will remain in place for at least 14 days. For Region 7, indoor service at bars or restaurants is now prohibited, outside bar and food service must close at 11 p.m., and indoor gatherings are capped at 25 people or 25% of the overall room capacity.
Today, the Office of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission issued guidance to the local liquor commissioners throughout the state regarding their authority to temporarily suspend liquor licenses for a period of seven days. The notice is meant to remind local liquor commissioners outside of Region 7 that they already have the authority under state law to temporarily suspend liquor licenses for seven days if they have reason to believe that continued operation of a bar or restaurant will "immediately threaten the welfare of the community."
Under the Illinois Liquor Control Act,
If the local liquor commissioner has reason to believe that any continued operation of a particular licensed premises will immediately threaten the welfare of the community he may, upon the issuance of a written order stating the reason for such conclusion and without notice or hearing order the licensed premises closed for not more than 7 days, giving the licensee an opportunity to be heard during that period, except that if such licensee shall also be engaged in the conduct of another business or businesses on the licensed premises such order shall not be applicable to such other business or businesses. 235 ILCS 5/7-5.
If a local liquor control commissioner decides to exercise this power, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission recommends that the local liquor commissioner abide by the following protocol:
Consult the City Attorney;
Commence an investigation;
If necessary, notify the bar/restaurant in writing that the local liquor commissioner could immediately cease the liquor license without a hearing if they violate bar/restaurant reopening requirements;
If necessary, issue a written order ceasing the liquor license for no more than seven days, which may include the following information:
Cite 235 ILCS 5/7-5 of the Illinois Liquor Control Act;
State date(s) and time(s) of when the order is in effect;
State the basis for the local liquor commissioner's conclusions that the continued operation of the bar/restaurant will immediately threaten the welfare of the community;
State that the licensee has the right to be heard during the license cessation period. For example, the local liquor commissioner could allow the licensee to submit a plan to help insure compliance with state bar/restaurant requirements.
Sign and date the order;
Require law enforcement agents to personally serve the order on the owners/officers of the bar; and
Monitor and enforce if necessary.
If your bar or restaurant receives a notice of temporary liquor license suspension, please give me a call to discuss your options.