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CHICAGO — The City of Chicago is allowing bars and restaurants to expand their indoor seating capacity.

On Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office announced that effective immediately, indoor capacity at bars, restaurants and other businesses can increase to 50%.

“Effective immediately indoor capacity at bars restaurants and other businesses can increase to the lesser of 50% or 50 people,” she said during Tuesday’s press conference.

These are the other changes that were announced:

  • Bars and restaurants can now also stay open until 1 a.m.
  • Liquor stores can now continue sales until 11 p.m.
  • Indoor fitness class sizes can also rise to 20 people

However, other regulations will remain in place for now, including the 50-person cap within any one space at bars, restaurants, events and other venues.  

Lightfoot pointed to sustained progress in all four reopening metrics as reasons for slightly reducing mitigation measures.

Anthony Stefani of Phil Stefani Signature Restaurant says the move is a great sign for businesses following a challenging year.

“We constantly had to reinvent ourselves,” he said. “Come up with different ideas on how to drum up business, with to-go, it was a struggle and I’m just glad that now, we see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Others who lobbied for Chicago restaurants to expand their indoor capacity called it a step forward, but noted more could be done.

“This is the way it should work,” Association. ” Opening up at 25 percent was almost financially impossible for many restaurants and at 50%, folks are hardly breaking even,” said Roger Romanelli, Executive Director of Fulton Market. “So while today is a positive step forward, it’s essential for us to get our restaurants back to full capacity in the safest possible way.”

For well-known area restaurants like Harry Caray’s which shut down in late October due to the pandemic, Lightfoot’s declaration is good news. The restaurant plans to reopen in the next 30 days.

“We opened our Water Tower location just before Valentine’s Day. We’re optimistic because the numbers, this time around, are much higher than they were last summer and fall,” said Grant Deporter of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group. “So I think people are people are getting more used to it or getting vaccinated. Just bringing more people out now.”

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