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Restaurants across Chicago will be limited to outdoor dining and takeout/delivery until COVID metrics improve.

Indoor dining prohibited again in Chicago, starting Friday

Rising COVID rates triggers reclosing, following similar moves in other regions of Illinois earlier this month

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday restaurant dining rooms across the city of Chicago would have to close again, starting Friday, as a result of rising COVID-19 metrics.

Pritzker said the mitigation efforts were necessary because of sustained increases in the positivity rate for COVID, as well as increases in hospitalizations for more than seven of the past 10 days. Earlier this week, restrictions were placed on suburban Cook County following a worsening of the pandemic crisis there. That move followed reclosings in DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties earlier this month.

Pritzker in a statement said the region that includes Chicago is averaging more than twice as many COVID-related hospital admissions per day as it was a month ago, with a positivity rate that has almost doubled since the beginning of October.

“So, starting on Friday, the city, too, will begin operating under our resurgence metrics, with a closure of indoor restaurant and bar service and a restrained gathering cap limit of 25 people,” Pritzker said.  “We can’t ignore what is happening around us — because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring. So please, no matter where you live, what your politics are, where you work or who you love, Illinois: mask up! And we’ll get through this together.”

For bars and restaurants, the restrictions include

  • No indoor service
  • All outdoor bar service closes at 11 p.m.
  • All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
  • No ordering, seating or congregating at the bar (bar stools should be removed
  • Tables should be six feet apart
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
  • No dancing or standing indoors
  • Reservations are required for each party
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table

In addition, meetings, gatherings or events are limited to fewer than 25 people or 25 % of room capacity. Party buses are prohibited, and gaming and casinos must close by 11 p.m., limit to 25% capacity and follow restaurant and bar rules if applicable.

For the restrictions to be relaxed again, the region’s average positivity rate must be 6.5% or less over a three-day period. But, after 14 days, the rate grows beyond 8%, even stricter restrictions could be applied, according to the state’s Restore Illinois Plan.

Organizing a campaign to call for a “more reasonable” approach to fighting spread of the virus, like curfews or reduced occupancy, the Illinois Restaurant Association argued that closing indoor service would “drive people further into uncontrolled, unmonitored private gatherings where few safety precautions are in place.” 

Restaurants, on the other hand, are “highly regulated, frequently inspected and held to the highest health standards. Keeping people safe is what restaurants do every single day,” the association contends with the campaign

The restaurant association contends that closing indoor dining would result in at least 20% of restaurants being forced to close permanently, resulting in 120,000 jobs lost.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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