For the first time in months, Chicago bars and restaurants can open to indoor dining.
The city and suburban Cook County will allow the venues to serve patrons inside at 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 25 people each, according to the Chicago Tribune. Fitness centers can also open inside at half capacity, and indoor and outdoor events can accommodate up to 25 people or 25 percent capacity.
The designation means the city and county have shifted into the Tier 1 phase of its statewide coronavirus restrictions, which should provide a boost to the struggling economy.
Among the restrictions, tables will be limited to four people inside or six people outside; diners have to wear face coverings except when they are seated, eating or drinking; and face coverings must be worn when talking to servers. Diners are limited to two hours indoors, and all bars and restaurants have to close their doors by 11 p.m., the Tribune reported. Only bars that also serve food can serve patrons inside.
The guidelines follow the state’s pandemic restrictions, which divides Illinois into 11 regions.
Last month, the Chicago Restaurants Coalition and several restaurant operators called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to allow indoor dining at 20 percent capacity by Jan 15. The coalition also asked for regulations to differentiate between bars and restaurants, for electricity bill due dates to be pushed back to April 30, for more contact tracing and for an update on the city’s hospitality grant program.
[Tribune] — Alexi Friedman