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Chicago's Mayor Wants People To Cancel Thanksgiving And Stop Having People Over — Including Family

The governor of Illinois said he will also take more "more stringent action" statewide on containing the spread of COVID-19 "if the numbers keep going in the wrong direction."

Posted on November 12, 2020, at 4:23 p.m. ET

Chicago Tribune / Getty Images

CHICAGO — In response to rapidly rising coronavirus cases in her city, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an advisory on Thursday, strongly urging residents to "stay at home unless for essential reasons" and to cancel any plans for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with lots of guests.

The mayor is also asking people to "stop having guests over" to their homes, including family members who live elsewhere.

"The City of Chicago is experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, which left unchecked poses a risk to our healthcare system," Lightfoot said in an official advisory. "Additional intervention is warranted to moderate case growth and preserve hospital capacity."

- Stay home unless for essential reasons - Stop having guests over—including family members you do not live with - Avoid non-essential travel - Cancel traditional Thanksgiving plans

The Chicago advisory, which goes into effect on Monday, is one of the toughest issued so far in a major city during the third wave of the pandemic in the US. It limits the size of events, including weddings and birthdays, to 10 people or fewer, and requires that indoor gatherings at private residences not exceed six non-household members.

Still, Lightfoot's advisory about canceling Thanksgiving and not having guests over altogether is not an order, as she cannot go beyond Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's statewide mandate.

The governor told reporters Thursday that he is monitoring cases "day by day" and will take "more stringent action" on containing COVID-19 spread "if the numbers keep going in the wrong direction."

On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 12,702 new COVID-19 cases in the state, including 43 additional deaths.

A spokesperson for the mayor told BuzzFeed News "essential reasons" means "only leave home to go to school or work, or for an essential service, like going to the hospital or pharmacy for a prescription." Grocery shopping or picking up food deliveries are also OK.

The spokesperson also said residents should not have guests over, with an exception for "essential workers" like healthcare providers, childcare workers, and educators.

Too many of our low-wage employees are going in because they’re afraid their jobs won’t be protected. I want our essential workers to know that you are supported by your city. If you feel your job is in jeopardy because of your health, please contact the City of Chicago at 311.

Lightfoot also announced on Twitter that the city will deploy "2,000 city workers, including up to 550 contact tracers" to help with research and awareness efforts.

For essential workers of businesses that still remain open, Lightfoot asked that they contact the city if they feel their "job is in jeopardy because of [their] health."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.