Despite Illinois allowing restaurants to reopen for outdoor seating in phase three of its reopening plan, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said city residents shouldn't expect that to happen this month and restaurant owners are adapting to the new plan.
During Thursday’s updating briefing, Lightfoot announced that Chicago bars and restaurants may not be ready until June amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"May 29 is the expiration date of the stay-at-home order," Lightfoot said. "As everyone surely knows, the city of Chicago has its own responsibilities and obligations to craft policies, public health policies, that are specific to the city of Chicago and we are hard at work on looking at ways in which we can get our restaurant industry back up."
When restaurants do reopen in Chicago, diners can expect to see some changes. Restaurants will no longer allow walk-ins meaning the outdoor dining experiences will be reservation only and staff will be wearing masks, restaurants will provide sanitizer stations, tables will be six feet apart and all menus will be disposable.
“We want to make everyone feel safe and healthy,” said Bucktown’s Red June Café owner Kim Blackburn. “We will have the tables further apart, we will have less chairs and we will have them sanitized and cleaned and ready for people to use.”
Customers will also be required to wear masks when they’re not safely seated at their table.
“It is not going to be the same until a vaccination is out,” said Bucktown’s Irazu owner Henry Cerdas. "Each customer and our staff have to take precautions to a whole different level."
Also on Thursday, Lightfoot acknowledged that she is working with local aldermen on plans to allow street closures to accommodate for additional outdoor seating at eateries, but did not offer a specific timeline.
"Like everything, we've got to do it safely. I need to understand and be certain that restaurants across the city have a means to protect their employees and members of the public that will patronize them," she said. "That's why we've been talking openly about well, what do we think about creating some closed streets, open spaces for restaurants to be able to open up and use the open spaces, but the reality is the other piece of it."