Chicago Announces Eased Coronavirus Business Restrictions

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced eased coronavirus restrictions on city businesses including boosting indoor occupancy levels for restaurants and health clubs.

“Over the past six months, we have asked so much of our business community. But each time, our businesses have stepped up to the plate,” Lightfoot said. “Thanks to this cooperation, we have met this challenging moment with grace, commitment and resilience, and the sacrifices made by our businesses, workers and residents have saved countless lives. This next step in our reopening is good news for business owners as well as the communities they serve and the thousands of residents that work for them.”

The changes come as city public health officials say more than 28 days of slow decreases in coronavirus cases and the COVID-19 test positivity rate. As of Monday, Chicago public officials say the city is averaging about 300 new coronavirus cases per day, an improvement compared to late August when the daily average of new cases was 350 and rising. The city’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has decreased to abut 4.5 percent, officials said.

Starting at 5 a.m. Thursday the following regulations go into effect:

  • Restaurants, health and fitness centers, personal services, non-essential retail and all other establishments that have been limited to 25% indoor capacity will now be able to increase their maximum indoor capacity to 40%. The limit of 50 total customers within one room or space at restaurants, venues and other establishments will remain in place, as will the limit of no more than six people per table.

  • Bars: Breweries, taverns, bars and other establishments that serve alcohol without a food license may reopen with indoor seating, at 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer. Service remains limited to no more than two hours per party, and customers must be seated when eating, drinking or ordering – patrons cannot walk up to the bar to order.

  • Bars, restaurants and other establishments that serve alcohol will now be able to sell alcohol for on-site or off-site consumption until 1:00 am and may remain open until 1:30 am. Liquor stores, grocery stores and other establishments that sell alcohol to-go through a Packaged Goods license must continue to cease alcohol sales at 9:00 p.m.

  • Maximum group size for health and fitness classes and after-school programming will increase from 10 to 15 people.

  • Facials, shaves and other personal services that require the removal of face coverings will be allowed.

“Overall, we are heading in the right direction, and this affords us an opportunity to further re-open the city and to do so gradually and safely,” city public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement.

“But I can’t emphasize this enough: Chicagoans need to continue to follow the public health guidance – wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home when sick – or we risk falling back and experiencing another rise in cases.”

Mayor Lightfoot billed the Chicago as America’s “most open” big city during the coronavirus crisis.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

This article originally appeared on the Chicago Patch

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