Chicago Restaurants, Bars To Open For Indoor Dining On June 26 — With Capacity Limits

Mayor Lightfoot, The Resurrection Project and Open Society Foundations announced Wednesday a new cash assistance program for Chicago residents.
Photo credit City of Chicago

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- For those wanting to dine inside in Chicago, the time to do so is coming soon.

Mayor Lightfoot and Business Affairs and Consumer Protections (BACP) Commissioner Rosa Escareno announced Friday that indoor dining and drinking can begin at restaurants, bars, breweries, and other eating and drinking establishments on Friday, June 26 to align with the state’s plan to move to Phase Four on the same day. “Our neighborhood restaurants, bars, and breweries all stand as among the most cherished parts of our communities and are integral to the fabric of our entire city,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Like all Chicagoans, I am personally excited to see them take these new, cautious steps towards safely reopening, and commend their collaboration throughout this unprecedented crisis. As we move ahead in the coming weeks and months, I look forward to strengthening our partnership as we continue our journey in rebuilding our city and becoming stronger and more equitable than we have ever been.” Starting on Friday, June 26, restaurants and bars will be able to allow indoor service at 25 percent capacity with a maximum capacity of 50 people per room or floor. Patrons must be seated at tables that are six feet apart with 10 people or fewer per table.

According to the Mayor, the decision to allow for indoor dining was based on the continued positive trend in the data metrics monitored by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) over the past several weeks. Seating at drinking establishments without a Retail Food Establishment License will be limited to a maximum of two hours per party. Alcohol sales at bars and restaurants for on-site consumption must still end at 11 p.m. each night, while the sale of alcohol for carryout or delivery must cease at 9 p.m. each night. “This next step in our reopening plan will provide the opportunity for thousands of businesses to expand and reopen, but they must do so cautiously and responsibly,” said Rosa Escareno, BACP Commissioner, in a statement. “We want to give restaurants and bars ample time to prepare for indoor service so they can take this next step carefully and safely.  We have made significant progress over the last few weeks and it is critical that our reopening efforts don’t come at the expense of the health of our community.” This announcement comes on the heels of Mayor Lightfoot’s recent reopening of bars and breweries for outdoor service. Starting June 17, establishments that sell alcohol for on-site consumption without a Retail Food License were eligible to reopen under similar health and safety restrictions that restaurants have been following since June 3. While restaurants and bars will be able to "cautiously reopen" indoors beginning on June 26, operators should continue to make outdoor seating a priority for safe dining and drinking. 

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To support restaurants and bars as they prepare to reopen indoors, BACP will be holding webinars  Monday, June 22, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to provide an overview of the indoor dining guidelines. Additionally, while the date at which Chicago will transition to Phase Four is still being determined, BACP will be holding webinars next week to help all industries prepare for the Phase Four guidelines. Chicago moved into Phase Three of its “Protecting Chicago” reopening framework on June 3, but the city is emphasizing that "cautiously reopening" still requires strict physical distancing even though it allows for some industries to reopen. The Mayor said all residents must continue to abide by important guidance in Phase Three, including: physically distancing and wearing a face covering; limiting non-business, social gatherings to 10 or fewer persons; staying at home if you feel ill or have come into contact with someone with COVID-19; and getting tested if you have symptoms. “While we’re all excited to further reopen our city we must do it the right way and continue to follow the guidance and take the necessary precautions,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “We’ve seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in cities and states that re-opened earlier than us, and we would all hate to see a similar set back here.” Dr. Arwady said that if the city continues to see progress in the data – including further declines in cases, deaths and hospitalizations – capacity at restaurants could be expanded to 50 percent. To make that move the city would need to reach an average of fewer than 100 new cases a day, which would move Chicago into the moderate-risk category rather than the higher-risk category it is in now, using CDC metrics based on population size.