As coronavirus metrics continue to drop throughout the city, Chicago eased several restrictions Tuesday, increasing fitness class size and extending the closing time of bars and restaurants.
City officials announced that, effective immediately, indoor fitness classes can increase capacity to 20 people or 50% capacity. Other Chicago industries, such as bars and restaurants, performance venues, movie theaters and personal services can also increase to half capacity, with no more than 50 people in one space.
As of Tuesday, curfews at bars and restaurants citywide were extended from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Alcohol sales from liquor stores and other establishments can also continue until 11 p.m., after nearly a year of being limited to a 9 p.m. stop time.
“We have made incredible progress in recent weeks and months, and I thank our business community for their ongoing commitment to saving lives,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “I am thrilled that we have reached 50% capacity, but I again call on all of our businesses and residents to double down on what works. We must remain diligent as we continue to move forward cautiously and responsibly.”
For restaurants, bars and event spaces, regulations that remain in place include:
- Food must be available at all times in order to offer indoor service. This means that bars, taverns or breweries without a food license can reopen indoors as long as they partner with a food establishment so that food is available to patrons at all times (e.g., making menus available and allowing delivery, allowing patrons to order from third-party delivery services).
- Maximum of six patrons at indoor or outdoor tables.
- Patrons can sit at bars, with six feet of social distancing between parties.
- Face coverings must be worn at all times, except when patrons are seated and actively eating or drinking.
- Patrons must be seated whenever they are eating or drinking.
- Tables must be six feet apart.
“Chicago restaurants are ready and eager to serve more diners safely,” Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association said in a statement. “These updated regulations are another step in the right direction that will give needed flexibility to operators across our 77 neighborhoods, protect hospitality jobs, and allow businesses to welcome more customers back with extensive public health measures in place."
The expansion of indoor service comes after the city reached what it says is at least a "moderate risk level" in four health metrics.
Those metrics, and where the city stands currently, are as follows:
- COVID cases diagnosed per day: currently averaging 283, in the “Moderate-Risk” level.
- COVID test positivity: currently averaging 2.9%, in the “Lower-Risk” level
- Emergency Departments visits for COVID-like illness: currently averaging 42 per day, in the “Lower-Risk” level
- ICU beds occupied by COVID patients: currently averaging 103, in the “Moderate-Risk” level
“We have been trending in the right direction and I congratulate Chicagoans for continuing to do the right thing in helping us contain the spread of the virus,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. ”We need to keep it up so we can continue to reopen our city safely and smartly, and get back to doing the things we love.”