Indoor dining returns to Chicago, but with restrictions

Events with 25 people or less and recreational sports can also resume.
Indoor dining returns to Chicago
Photo credit Getty Images

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Saturday announced that bars and restaurants in Chicago and Suburban Cook County are able to have indoor dining service at reduced capacity -- effective immediately.

The IDPH previously said that if metrics improved and/or remained stable then Region 10 (Suburban Cook County) and Region 11 (Chicago) would be able to move to Tier 1. Tier 1 mitigations allow for indoor service at bars and restaurants at 25 percent capacity or 25 people, whichever is less.

Establishments offering indoor service must serve food.

Additionally, in Tier 1, meetings, social events, and gatherings are allowed at 25 percent capacity or 25 guests, whichever is less, for both indoor and outdoor venues. Recreational sports can also continue with capacity limits.

“With all regions of Illinois now out of Tier 3, we can now see that the entire state is headed down the right path,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said on Friday. “During the summer, we were on this same path. We know that we must continue to take precautions and be smart about how we relax some of the mitigation measures, which are in place to protect our health and safety.”

But that doesn't mean it returns forever: IDPH will continue to closely monitor test positivity, ICU bed availability, and the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19. Should data show regions trending in the wrong direction, based on the established mitigation metrics, regions could once again find themselves in a higher tier with increased measures, officials said.

Restaurant dining rooms shuttered in Chicago Oct. 30 while the region had a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Eater Chicago noted that it's been a rocky road to survival for many establishments. "While many restaurants can turn to takeout and delivery, downtown restaurants that are designed more as attractions aren’t seeing as much success. The Illinois Restaurant Association continues to push for added capacity, saying it feels restaurants can safely serve more than the 25 percent capacity now allowed by the state," Eater wrote.

So, what did it take to get back to dining in-person? These are the metrics, by tier.

Metrics for moving from a higher to lower tier are as follows: Moving from Tier 3 to Tier 2
 • Test positivity rate ≥ 8% and below 12% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
 • Staffed ICU bed availability ≥ 20% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
 • Sustained decline in COVID patients in hospital (7-day average for 7 of 10 days)
Moving from Tier 2 to Tier 1
 • Test positivity rate between 6.5% and 8% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
 • Staffed ICU bed availability ≥ 20% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
 • No sustained increase in COVID patients in hospital (7-day average for 7 of 10 days)
Moving from Tier 1 to Phase 4
 • Test positivity rate ≤ 6.5% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
 • Staffed ICU bed availability ≥ 20% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
 • No sustained increase in COVID patients in hospital (7-day average for 7 of 10 days)Information about mitigation and resurgence metrics can be found on the IDPH website at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/regionmetrics.dph.illinois.gov