Restaurants in Illinois can begin to allow indoor dining with some major changes starting Friday as the state moves into phase four of its reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday released new guidelines for businesses as Illinois continues to lift restrictions meant to curb the spread of the deadly virus. The new guidelines include regulations on allowing restaurant patrons to eat inside establishments for the first time since mid-March.
Restaurants can allow indoor dining with groups of 10 or less, according to the governor's office. Tables must be spaced 6 feet apart in seated areas and standing areas can be at no more than 25% of capacity, Pritzker's office said.
All four regions of Illinois are on track to enter phase four on Friday, Pritzker's office said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that the city - operating on its own reopening plan - is on track to join the rest of the state in moving into phase four Friday.
But Chicago's plan features slightly different regulations on indoor dining and drinking at restaurants, bars, breweries and other eating and drinking establishments.
Those rules include:
- Indoor dining will be restricted to 25% capacity
- Up to 50 people allowed per room or floor
- Tables must stay 6 feet apart with 10 people or fewer per table
- Venues without a Retail Food Establishment License will be limited to a maximum of two hours per party and alcohol sales at bars and restaurants must still end at 11 p.m. each night.
- The sale of alcohol for carryout or delivery must end at 9 p.m. each night
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that if the city continues to see progress "capacity at restaurants could be expanded to 50%."
In order for that to happen, the city would need to reach an average of fewer than 100 new cases a day, which would move Chicago into the moderate-risk category rather than the higher-risk category it is in now under CDC guidelines.
Currently, restaurants and bars can only offer outdoor dining, which comes with space limitations and leaves capacity dependent on weather.
The state has been in phase three of the "Restore Illinois" plan since late May. Friday will mark the earliest possible date to move into the next phase based on several metrics, including stability or a decrease in hospital admissions for 28 days and available surge capacity of at least 14 percent of hospital beds and ventilators, among other criteria.
In addition to indoor dining, phase four of the "Restore Illinois" plan also allows for the reopening or expansion of several industries, including health and fitness centers, movies and theaters, museums and zoos and more. This next phase also increases the size of gatherings that are allowed from 10 people to a maximum of 50 people.