Ride along with Chicago BACP investigator inspecting restaurant COVID-19 protocols

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Chicago rolls back some of its restrictions on restaurants, the city is making sure businesses are following the rules when it comes to social distancing.

RELATED: Chicago indoor dining reopens as city, suburban Cook Co. move to Tier 1

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Chicago restaurants and bars are will be able to reopen for limited indoor dining starting Saturday.

ABC7 followed a city investigator as she visited some businesses to review their COVID-19 protocols as part of the city's newly-expanded Active Compliance Program focusing on restaurants.

"The capacity limits matter," said Nikita Sanders. "No more than 25 per space."

Sanders is just shy of 15 years as an investigator for Chicago's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department. She hopes these consultations will help business owners be safe and avoid enforcement action.

Deuces in Wrigleyville - still decorated for its holiday pop-up - opened for indoor seating this week.

"We're on the same page to keep everyone safe and keep everything going," said Jasper Robinson, general manager of Deuce's. "I think it's important for the customers to know. I think it's important for my staff to know."

"No one wants to write a $10,000 ticket, no one does," Sanders said. "We literally just want people and businesses to understand: this is what we must do to stay open and to get to the new normal."

Across the street, Merkle's Bar and Grill has been closed more than open this last year. Owner Russell Bishop said he is eager to reopen March 4 - and to do it safely.

"It's just as important for us to keep everybody safe, to make sure we don't go down that road again," Bishop said. "If anything she is recommending to me will help us get there, I am more than happy to listen."

Investigator Sanders also did a consultation at a gym. She issued no citations on Thursday, and she hopes to keep it that way.
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