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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Bloomington Fines 6 Bars For Tax And COVID Violations

Screen shot of a zoom meeting of the Bloomington Liquor Commission
Charlie Schlenker
As of Tuesday, the City of Bloomington had fined 11 bars and restaurants for violating COVID mitigation orders from the governor.

The Bloomington Liquor Commission fined two more establishments Tuesday for violating COVID-19 mitigation rules in January, and four others for tax violations.

The Parkview Inn on Morris Avenue has paid an $800 fine for a second violation of Gov. JB Pritzker’s earlier executive order banning indoor dining service under certain conditions. The Spotted Dog on Morrissey Drive paid $500 for a first violation. They are the latest of nearly a dozen bars that have been fined for such infractions.

Pritzker eased restrictions on indoor dining in central Illinois and other parts of the state on Jan. 17 as COVID numbers improved; the ban had been in place since mid-November. 

The commission also accepted settlements from four establishments for failing to pay taxes to the city.

“These are establishments that have taken money from their clients, from their patrons, and not forwarded it to the city, said Mayor Tari Renner, who heads the liquor commission.

After the meeting, City Attorney George Boyle said he did not immediately have the amount or the length of time the establishments had been in arrears. Boyle said that varied among establishments.

“It’s not supposed to be a no-interest loan,” he said.

Boyle said the unusual concentration of such violations in one Liquor Commission meeting might stem from the pandemic that caused cash flow difficulties. Many bars and restaurants have suffered intense financial pressure from a loss of business during the pandemic.

Boyle also said the city had earlier focused on mitigation order violations and may have bundled tax violation cases into the Tuesday commission hearing.

Hacienda Leon on Hershey Road, Cheek’s Bar and Grill on Towanda Avenue, Aroma Indian Restaurant on Eldorado Road, and Las Margaritas Mexican Bar and Grill on Ballybunion Drive have each paid $600 fines on top of restitution, and interest payments, said Boyle.

Another establishment, Drifter’s on North Main Street, admitted failing to pay taxes to the city. A penalty hearing will be scheduled later. Boyle said Drifter’s had paid no taxes to the city on sales of food and beverages since January of 2020.

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