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150-person wedding reception at suburban hotel under investigation for violating COVID-19 rules

Gov. J.B. Pritzker described the event as “very irresponsible.”

Hilton Chicago/Northbrook
Hilton Chicago/Northbrook
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A north suburban hotel apologized Thursday after it hosted a wedding reception that triggered a Cook County health department investigation for violations of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Last evening, the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook hosted a family wedding with approximately 150 people in attendance. While the event was booked prior to the implementation of the state’s latest mitigation measures, we sincerely regret allowing this gathering to proceed and our family apologizes to our guests, employees, and the Chicagoland community,” general manager Holly Allgauer-Cir said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.

“The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the hospitality industry and our family-owned business. However, our hope to keep the hotel afloat and employees working should not outweigh health and safety.”

Allgauer-Cir said the hotel will follow health officials’ recommendations on contact tracing and testing.

The Cook County Department of Public Health has requested the guest list for the reception, spokesman Don Bolger said.

The hotel is in Prospect Heights, which issued the venue a written warning. City administrator Joe Wade said Thursday the hotel’s general manager told him at least one hotel employee had urged members of the party to socially distance and wear masks.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker described the event as “very irresponsible.”

“This is very concerning to all of us at a moment when we have rampant COVID-19 throughout Illinois,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 media briefing Thursday. “Here we have people who, in a concentrated fashion, have the ability now to go spread it to everywhere that they return to.

“I’m deeply worried for them and for the communities that they’ve returned to, for their families and so on. I hope that each of them will isolate and get a test.”

Pritzker said it would be up to local authorities to mete out punishment.

The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association said the event was “unacceptable and does not reflect the careful efforts the hotel industry as a whole has taken since the onset of the pandemic to protect guests, employees and our communities.”

“The hotel industry is committed to working with policymakers and public health officials to ensure this situation is not repeated,” association president and CEO Michael Jacobson said in a statement.