Limited indoor dining returns to Chicago bars, restaurants; city under Tier 1

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CHICAGO — Indoor dining will be allowed to resume in Chicago and suburban Cook County with new rules that bars and restaurants must follow.

Many restaurants and bars feared that if indoor dining did not resume, that they would not survive. If the metrics remain stable Saturday, dining rooms will be allowed to reopen for the first time since fall. Chicago and suburban Cook County were on track to move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 mitigations.

Service is resuming to the city earlier than originally planned after three straight days of a positivity rate below 8%.

Indoor diners on the first night of resumed service at Due Lire in Lincoln Square were thrilled to be sitting out of the cold and to be helping out a loved local business.

“I’m super excited to be sitting inside. We felt like Massimo should have opened a window today because it’s normally cold because we are sitting outside,” diner Renee Dalton said.

Owner Massimo Divuolo said the easing of restrictions was long-awaited, and that it hasn’t been easy relying on takeout and delivery.

“It was something we were waiting for a long time, we were really looking for it to open. It’s been almost three months since we closed dining indoors. It’s been a rough time,” Divuolo said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted on Saturday that “due to recent progress in the fight against COVID-19,” the city was now operating under the state’s Tier 1 mitigations.

The following restrictions are in place:

  • Restaurants and bars that serve food can operate at 25% capacity. 
  • Tables must be six feet apart.
  • Four people per table indoors and six people per table outside.
  • Bars and restaurants must close by 11p.m. 
  • Indoor dining is limited to two hours.
  • Masks must be worn except while eating or drinking.

Gov. JB Pritzker banned indoor service in the fall when COVID-19 cases were climbing.

For many owners, take out and delivery were not enough to sustain their businesses. As the COVID-19 numbers moved in the right direction.

Last week, Lightfoot started pushing for reopening bars and restaurants arguing that they have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. Restaurant owners have urged Pritzker to act to help save the industry. 

How long this will last will depend on many variables, but one of which is how well restaurant and bar owners can follow the new restrictions.

More information on mitigation and resurgence metrics can be found at IDPH’s website here.

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