Announced just this weekend in Chicago, indoor dining returns to Chicago. Restaurants and food-serving bars can now reopen with limited indoor dining. On Saturday morning, the Illinois Department of Public Health officially gave all of Cook County the “ok” to resume on-premise service. There are a few notable restrictions: A four-person per table limit and a max 25 percent capacity/ 25 people per room. Mask wearing and social distancing rules continue to be in place. Bars that don’t serve food or haven’t partnered with a restaurant, caterer, or food truck can’t offer indoor service.
On October 30th, State officials suspended indoor dining in Chicago, because health experts noticed a drastic surge in hospitalizations with more COVID-19 tests returning positive. Because of this, not all restaurants will want to reopen, as many, understandably, feel it’s not worth the risk and don’t want to reopen if another COVID-19 surge will force them to close again. In the earlier stages of the pandemic, the pressure of serving customers during a pandemic was combined with worries from employees who wondered if their bosses were following government safety mitigations. Some owners took the advice from doctors seriously, going into hibernation or focusing on takeout options. This broke ranks from the Illinois Restaurant Association, which has been pushing for the return of indoor dining as quickly as possible.
Presently, 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. Some restaurants have large windows or garage doors that allow 50 percent of a wall to be open, which permits them to serve customers indoors even during the suspension of service. They’ve been doing this since the state halted indoor service in Chicago, fearing the virus’s second wave. But Winter’s freezing temperatures make this arrangement uncomfortable. Allowing dining with a wall sealed from the elements is more appealing in Chicago and other cold weather cities. Additionally, while many restaurants were able to easily turn to takeout and delivery methods, downtown restaurants, designed to be attractions, aren’t seeing as much success in adapting, which put pressure on the city to let indoor dining return to Chicago.
To stay up to date on city restrictions as the situation develops, make sure to keep checking out our blog!