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Chicago continues to relax restrictions on indoor restaurants

The city of Chicago has increased the maximum number of customers allowed in restaurants. Chicago officials have adjusted COVID-19 restrictions to allow restaurants to serve at a maximum capacity of 50 percent (up from 40 percent). Chicago liquor stores can now drink alcohol later at night. The cutoff was postponed from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. As more and more bars and restaurants are reopening, the city has also extended the on-site operating hours from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The order takes effect immediately.

It’s been two weeks since the city moved to 40 percent capacity, and Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, says his membership was awaiting an announcement from the city. The current rule is for a maximum of 40 percent or 50 people per room – whichever number is lower. The 50-person limit remains unchanged.

Tables are limited to a maximum of six people, and groups should still be seated three feet apart. At a time when industrial workers continue to wait for their chance for a COVID-19 vaccine, customers must wear their masks unless they are eating or drinking. Workers, including bartenders, should continue to wear masks at all times.

While the city wouldn’t exceed the 50-person limit, Toia said the city has shown interest in easing restrictions on venues that use Plexiglas barriers to separate parties. The use of barriers protects customers from larger spray-born droplets are released when people cough or speak loudly (the kind of chatter that often occurs in bars). But health experts say smaller droplets can still get around the shields.

Two people enjoy drinks outside while sitting at a bar.

Plexiglass barriers were installed on the utopian tailgate in the old town last year.Barry crowbar/ Eater Chicago

Toia also hopes the city will soon review its restrictions on private events. He expects more communions, bar mitzvahs and weddings this spring, and the current c for private events in Chicago is 50. The association would like that number to increase to 100 to 150.

Meanwhile, as stories of service employees, fears and disrespectful customers Toia continues to show up in Chicago and says he is urging Mayor Lori Lightfoot to allow restaurant and bar workers to be vaccinated earlier. Currently, the city’s health department is targeting March 29th if these employees come into question: „Restaurant employees are important employees just like grocers,” Toia says.

Increasing capacity without employees being eligible for vaccinations has sent a contradicting message to employees in Chicago, who are seeing their restaurant colleagues in Detroit and New York City be vaccinated. The narrative is that the government regards workers as available, like this essay in Good little one posits.

However, public health experts advise caution when reopening businesses. At a briefing at the White House on Monday, Rochelle Walensky – the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – warned the Americans Caution should still be exercised in easing rules to limit the risk of a COVID-19 contraction.

Indoor dining returned to Chicago in late January with a maximum capacity of 25 percent after state and city officials ordered dining rooms to be closed in late October.

Crain is reported the news first of the 50 percent increase.

  • COVID-19 orders [City of Chicago]
  • Chicago expects to increase indoor restaurant capacity to 50 percent [Crain’s]
  • Why plexiglass alone cannot prevent Covid-19 [Vox]
  • The Chicago restaurant worker pandemic: maskless customers, no vaccines, and a constant risk of COVID-19 [Tribune]
  • Restaurant workers should be prioritized for the vaccine. Why are we not [Bon petit]
  • „Please listen to me clearly”: The CDC director urges states not to reopen too early if the cases hit a plateau [ABC]