Chicago is heightening some of its restrictions once more in an effort to slow a rise in cases in the city and those measures include shutting down indoor bar service.
The announcement was made Monday as the city's average daily case total climbed to 233.
“We have made so much progress here in Chicago in containing the spread of the virus, protecting our health system and saving lives, and in general, the virus remains under control locally. But we are again seeing a steady increase in new cases,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “While we aren’t near the peak of the pandemic from earlier this year, none of us wants to go back there, and we feel these restrictions will help limit further community spread.”
Here's what you need to know about the new restrictions:
When does indoor bar service stop?
The new rules take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday to allow businesses time to prepare, city officials said.
What's included in the restrictions?
- Bars, taverns, breweries and other establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption without a Retail Food license will no longer be able to serve customers indoors.
- Restaurants that serve alcohol will be allowed to continue to operate as long as they abide by ongoing COVID-19 guidance and existing regulations.
- Establishments without food may still provide outdoor service as they did under phase three.
- Maximum party size and table occupancy at restaurants, bars, taverns and breweries will be reduced to six people.
What other restrictions were issued?
- Indoor fitness class size will be reduced to a maximum of 10 people.
- Personal services requiring the removal of face coverings will no longer be permitted (shaves, facials, etc.).
- Residential property managers will be asked to limit guest entry to five per unit to avoid indoor gatherings and parties.
What sparked the roll back?
Chicago's top public health official had warned that roll backs were possible if the city reached an average daily case rate above 200.
The city topped 200 daily cases on Friday and as of Monday, that average sat at 233. The positivity rate as of Monday morning sat at 5.1%, according to the city's health department.
A daily average above 200 puts Chicago in a "high-incidence state," driven in large part by rising cases among people between 18 and 29 years old, city officials said. The positivity rate is also going up in the city "after weeks of decline," according to CDPH.
“No one relishes making this move but it’s the right thing to do as we work to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 similar to what we’re seeing in many states around the country,” Arwady said in a statement. “This virus has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx individuals, many of whom are essential workers who have continued to go to work, and we can’t afford to see a resurgence that would mean more cases and more deaths.”
Could more restrictions be added?
According to the mayor's office, the city "will continue to assess the data daily and make other adjustments as needed.
"For example, team sports workouts and practices are still allowed but must be done appropriately as spread has occurred in these settings," the office said in a release.
The larger concern comes if the city reaches an average of 400 new cases per day, which could mark a return to phase three, Arwady said last week.
"If we get to a point where we are up to 400 cases per day, that's the equivalent of where the states are that we are requiring quarantine for our visitors," Arwady said Wednesday. "It's the equivalent of needing to go back to a phase three, really pulling back on major activities."
Lightfoot said last week the city was "dangerously close" to reversing course.
"Right now we are on the precipice. We are dangerously close to going back to a dangerous state of conditions," Lightfoot said during a news conference Wednesday.
Lightfoot has repeatedly said in recent days that she will not hesitate to reimpose some of the restrictions put in place in the earlier months of the pandemic should coronavirus cases and metrics continue to rise.
"Some of you have joked that I'm like the mom who will turn the car around when you're acting up. No friends, it's actually worse," Lightfoot said. "I won't just turn the car around. I'm gonna shut it off, kick you out and I'm gonna make you walk home. That's who I am. That's who I must be for you and everyone else in this city to make sure that we continue to be safe."
"I don't want to be that person if I don't have to - but I will if you make me," she continued.
Most industries were shut down nearly entirely beginning in mid-March as cases began to climb in Illinois. Restrictions have been gradually lifted in a phased reopening framework, with Chicago entering phase four on June 26, allowing indoor service in a limited capacity at bars and restaurants, among other changes.
Should Chicago's metrics drop below 100 daily cases, however, the city could see further loosening of restrictions.
"If we're able to get this confirmed cases per day down below 100, which I think is possible, that's when we'll be moving ahead," she said. "We need that case number on the decline and really down below 100."
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