Chicago expands indoor dining to 50% capacity, further eases COVID restrictions

Restaurant
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The city of Chicago announced Tuesday a further easing of COVID-19 regulations for Chicago businesses, including increasing indoor dining capacity to 50 percent.

Effective immediately, indoor capacity at bars, restaurants and other businesses can increase to 50 percent or 50 people per space, due to sustained progress in all four reopening metrics. Additionally, bars and restaurants can now remain open until 1 a.m.; and alcohol sales from liquor stores and other establishments with a Package Goods license can now continue until 11 p.m. a two-hour extension from the 9 p.m. curfew that has been in effect since April.

“We have made incredible progress in recent weeks and months, and I thank our business community for their ongoing commitment to saving lives,” said Mayor Lightfoot, in a statement. “I am thrilled that we have reached 50% capacity, but I again call on all of our businesses and residents to double down on what works. We must remain diligent as we continue to move forward cautiously and responsibly.”

All other regulations remain in place for these establishments, including:

• Food must be available at all times in order to offer indoor service. This means that bars, taverns or breweries without a food license can reopen indoors as long as they partner with a food establishment so that food is available to patrons at all times (e.g., making menus available and allowing delivery, allowing patrons to order from third-party delivery services).
• Maximum of six patrons at indoor or outdoor tables. Patrons can sit at bars, with six feet of social distancing between parties.
• Face coverings must be worn at all times, except when patrons are seated and actively eating or drinking.
• Patrons must be seated whenever they are eating or drinking.
• Tables must be six feet apart.

“Chicago restaurants are ready and eager to serve more diners safely,” said Sam Toia, President & CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association, in a statement. “These updated regulations are another step in the right direction that will give needed flexibility to operators across our 77 neighborhoods, protect hospitality jobs, and allow businesses to welcome more customers back with extensive public health measures in place. We thank Mayor Lightfoot and her team for listening to the needs of the hospitality community as Chicago continues on a safe and steady path to reopening and recovery."

Other industries, such as performance venues, health and fitness centers, movie theaters and personal services, can also increase to 50 percent capacity, with no more than 50 people within any one space and 20 people in indoor fitness classes.

Under the framework released in early February, CDPH established four critical metrics that determine Chicago’s ability to move forward in the reopening plan. Tuesday’s announcement is possible because Chicago has reached at least the “Moderate-Risk” level in all four of these metrics, and sustained that level for two weeks:

• COVID cases diagnosed per day: currently averaging 283, in the “Moderate-Risk” level.  
• COVID test positivity: currently averaging 2.9%, in the “Lower-Risk” level 
• Emergency Departments visits for COVID-like illness: currently averaging 42 per day, in the “Lower-Risk” level 
• ICU beds occupied by COVID patients: currently averaging 103, in the “Moderate-Risk” level

“We have been trending in the right direction and I congratulate Chicagoans for continuing to do the right thing in helping us contain the spread of the virus,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D., in a statement. ”We need to keep it up so we can continue to reopen our city safely and smartly, and get back to doing the things we love.”

In adhering to standard public health practice, additional easing of regulations will be considered if Chicago sustains existing risk levels for at least two weeks following this announcement. More information on Chicago’s plan for cautious reopening will be available at chicago.gov/reopening.

While Chicago continues to make significant progress in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials remind all Chicagoans that the city remains in the midst of a pandemic and calls on everyone to take the safety precautions that helped flatten the curve a second time. Regulations requiring face coverings and social distancing remain in place at all businesses, and indoor residential gatherings remain limited to no more than 10 individuals.