Chicago COVID-19: Restaurants could soon see return to indoor dining

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Illinois continues to lower the test positivity rate, indoor dining is finally on the horizon in Chicago.

The city's public health commissioner hopes restaurants can reopen, as soon as this weekend.

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Starting Monday, Chicago will move into Phase 1B, during which many frontline workers as well as residents 65 and older will be able to get vaccinated.

Tables across Chicago remain empty, but some form of indoor dining could be just days away. Christos Intzempapzakis, the general manager of all three Meli Cafe locations, says it would be a lifeline.

"It would be a very welcome change," Intzempapzakis said. "It would be something better from what we have so far."

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As early as this weekend, officials say the city, could come down to Tier 1, allowing limited indoor dining...

"We've got to remain diligent, but I'm optimistic that we'll see indoor dining in restaurants relatively soon," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

As restaurants get creative in the cold and the snow to create outdoor seating, some said re-opening partial indoor dining is long overdue for struggling establishments.

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"Even if they had opened yesterday, it's still too late," Intzempapzakis said. "Some people are just hanging out there."

Sam Sanchez, the owner of Moe's Cantina and Old Crow Smokehouse ,thinks the news is positive and believes all restaurants should be able to open for indoor dining with proper social distancing immediately.

"We're hoping that there's more than 25 people per-restaurant," Sanchez said. "We're hoping that the curfew doesn't end at 10 o'clock at night."

Dr. Allison Arwady, the city's health commissioner, said COVID-19 case numbers have been steadily declining since January 8. She said she is very optimistic that some indoor dining could return any day now.
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