While it remains unclear what winter dining will look in Chicago as restaurants work to find creative solutions for eating outside in the cold, Chicago officials have released new guidelines that bring some clarity to what's ahead.
Under the guidance quietly released by the city over the weekend, restaurants with sidewalk cafe permits or outdoor patio licenses can use tents, domes or other temporary structures that allow "adequate ventilation" for circulation. Some heating devices will also be allowed, but they have to meet a required set of safety regulations.
For places using domes or other enclosed spaces, placards must be posted "advising about increased risk of transmission within an enclosed space."
Restaurants will need to submit their fall and winter plans in writing.
More than 50 restaurants in the Chicago area have permanently closed their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurant owners have said they're particularly concerned about the winter months if things don't change and restrictions on indoor dining remain in place.
Chicago officials launched a competition last month for creative outdoor dining ideas for the winter months and have received over 600 submissions so far. They include tents, heated tables and domes. The winners get a $5,000 cash prize and the chance to try out the idea at restaurants and bars in Chicago.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
"From architects to designers, restaurateurs, servers and dining enthusiasts, the city has received 643 innovative and exciting ideas for cold-weather outdoor dining in the first-ever Chicago Winter Design Challenge," the mayor's office said in a release.