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Illinois Bars and Restaurants to Fully Reopen Friday With No Capacity Limits

While the removal of occupancy limits and other rules represents a significant step forward, state officials have cautioned residents that it is possible for the state to move back to previous phases

(Xinhua/Joel Lerner via Getty Images

For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, bars and restaurants throughout Illinois will be permitted to reopen without capacity limits Friday when both the state and city of Chicago enter Phase 5, Illinois' final reopening phase.

Upon entering the next phase, fully vaccinated people will be able to resume activities without wearing a mask in Illinois unless required by government entities, businesses and workplaces.

Even though bars and restaurants will be fully reopen, the establishments will still be permitted to serve cocktails to go.

An initiative permitting to-go sales was first passed during the 2020 legislative session to help bars and restaurants bring in more revenue as they struggled with closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. In late May, the Illinois House passed a bill to update the measure and extend its sunset date to Jan. 1, 2024. 

Under the current Bridge Phase, restaurants, not including those in Chicago, must seat patrons at least 6 feet apart, and parties must consist of 10 people or fewer. Capacity is limited to 30% indoors and 50% outdoors.

In Chicago, restaurants are limited to 75% capacity with at least 6 feet between patrons, and tables must have 10 people or fewer. Seating at bars and counters is limited to six people per party both indoors and outdoors.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last week that the city will join the rest of the state in moving into Phase 5 Friday, citing lowering hospitalizations and positivity rates.

"Because you've masked up, socially distanced and got vaccinated, we're now moving to Phase 5 on Friday, June 11 in alignment with the state. This means Chicago is scheduled to fully reopen," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted.

While the removal of occupancy limits and other rules represents a significant step forward in the COVID pandemic, state officials have cautioned residents that it is possible for the state to move back to previous phases in the following instances:

  • If hospital admissions for COVID-19 illnesses increase to more than 150 hospitalizations per day over a 10-day monitoring period.
  • If the number of COVID patients in hospitals climbs above 750 and stays there for more than 10 days.
  • If the state’s mortality rate increases and goes above a 0.1 daily average.
  • If ICU bed availability statewide drops below 20% over a 10-day monitoring period.
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