Bars and restaurants could open with outdoor seating starting May 29 under new guidelines

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SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced new guidelines for bars and restaurants Wednesday that would allow them to serve customers outdoors when the state moves on to the next phase of reopening.

As early as May 29, bars and restaurants could offer outdoor seating so long as tables are six feet apart and away from sidewalks, and staff wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines.

“The experts believe that these services can reopen at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities, and give our hospitality industry a much-needed boost as they work to keep their businesses on their feet during this terrible crisis,” Pritzker said.

The governor also encouraged mayors and local leaders to do “whatever is in their power” to help businesses expand their outdoor seating. Some cities like Tampa and Cincinnati have closed streets in order to open them up for use by local bars and restaurants.

All of the regions outlined in the “Restore Illinois” plan, including the northeast region which includes Chicagoland, meet the metrics for moving on to this next phase of reopening as of May 20.

Here’s what Phase 3 of reopening will look like in Illinois

Also included in “Phase 3” of reopening: gatherings of 10 people or fewer, the reopening of all state parks for visitors, and activities like hiking, camping, boating and tennis. Certain businesses and manufacturing can also reopen.

  Also Wednesday, Pritzker announced people who receive SNAP benefits will soon be able to buy food online.

 All LINK card holders in Illinois  will be able to shop online and have their groceries delivered.

The program starts June 2.

LINK customers will be alerted when they can use their cards online.

In store purchases will continue as usual, but this new feature, enacted now during the pandemic, will be permanent.

Walmart and Amazon have already agreed to accept online orders once the site launches.

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