Chicago not ready yet for return of outdoor dining, Lightfoot says

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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot doesn’t think the City of Chicago will be ready for outdoor restaurant dining amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite the governor’s comments on the topic.

During his daily news briefing Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker said Illinois bars and restaurants could offer outdoor seating while following social distancing guidelines.

While “heartened” by Pritzker’s comments, Lightfoot said Thursday: “I don’t think we will be ready by May 29th.”

Lightfoot said she wanted a more robust plan in place so that restaurants could reopen safely.

At his news conference Thursday, Gov. Pritzker responded and said it was Chicago’s decision.

“The decision to not have outdoor seating is completely up to them as I’ve said all along,” Pritzker said. “We’ve tried to provide a baseline to protect people in different cities and counties. They can do something more stringent.”

Some restaurant owners expressed disappointment. The owners WGN News spoke with said they are hurting with revenue down 85% to 90%. And that every day that goes by they lose more money. Many have had to lay off a majority of their staff.

Lightfoot said she wants a more robust plan in place to make sure restaurants can reopen safely.

“My hope is that soon in June that we will be ready,” she said.

She mentioned downtown, Andersonville, Logan Square and Wicker Park as neighborhoods where city officials may be able to close off streets for tables, which could potentially cost the city in lost parking meter revenue.

In the Gold Coast Triangle area, some restaurant owners said it would the perfect spot to close streets.

Nick Lombardo is the Chief Operating Officer of the Rosebud Restaurant Group

“We were hoping it would be coming sooner than later,” he said. “We’ve been hoping we could open up the street here and put more tables. The patio we normally have wont’ be enough to support our restaurant.”

The mayor also said she is looking at plans to reopen the lakefront, but isn’t there yet.

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