coronavirus illinois

Chicago Restaurants Could Reopen in June: Mayor Lightfoot

At the earliest, bars and restaurants in Chicago could open on June 26, according to city officials

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Restaurants throughout the city of Chicago could reopen in June, but with notable changes, Mayor Lori Lightfoot told the Chicago Tribune Friday.

One potential idea outlined by Lightfoot would allow restaurants to take over city sidewalks and streets for outdoor dining.

"What every scientist and doctor says is social distancing, so if we do have potential closing of streets, parking lots so we can have tables outdoors 6 feet apart, we can have the best of both worlds," said Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Mayor Lightfoot said she doesn't only see restaurants reopening in June, but she expects to see outdoor activities resume some time during the summer, too.

Multiple Chicagoans told NBC 5 they were elated to hear the mayor's encouraging comments and are eager to spend more time — especially the summer — outside.

"Just opening the whole city up is a great opportunity for us to have hope, honestly," Chicago resident Bobby Celestin said.

Small businesses said they're well aware of the health risks and are working hard to prove they can reopen soon and safely.

"We are in desperate moments right now," said Sam Sanchez, owner of Moe's Cantina and Old Crow Smokehouse. "We want to open our restaurants and bring our employees back and our customers, but first of all, we have to be safe."

Under Mayor Lightfoot's reopening plan, restaurants and bars are set to reopen on June 26th at the earliest, although city leaders caution the time frame could change.

When it comes to one big unknown — reopening the lakefront — Mayor Lightfoot said she expects it to reopen at some point during the summer, but said it's too soon to say when.

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