Cubs Opening Day 2021: Bar capacity to be enforced in Wrigleyville as COVID cases rise on North Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Plans are being made to keep bars around Wrigley Field in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions for Opening Day at Wrigley Field on Thursday.

Officials will be checking on capacity and working to keep large crowds of people from gathering and drinking during the game, and into the weekend.

City officials have been in communication with Wrigleyville business owners ahead of the home opener to urge compliance, but they're also planning to have teams here on the ground on game day.

SEE ALSO | Chicago mass COVID vaccination sites near Wrigley Field, Chicago State University opening soon

Thursday isn't just opening day for the Cubs, it's reopening day for many Wrigleyville bars after essentially being closed for months.

"I think the challenge is basically just making sure that you're still having a fun time, but making sure that everything is still healthy and safe," said Jason Felsenthal, co-owner of HVAC Pub.

Bars can accommodate the lesser of 50% capacity or 50 people inside, and 10 to a table outside, as long as they're 6 feet apart. The pack-'em-in crowds of past opening days are obviously not allowed.

"You can't go to another table. You have to sit down," Felsenthal explained. "There's no bar service, so you can't walk up to the bar and order a drink."

SEE ALSO | Chicago's North Side sees dangerous spike in COVID cases

Police will be out in force and so will city regulators with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which is deploying teams to ensure compliance.

"Very important is the masks and ensuring that people are not congregating in these small groups that we're seeing, you know, five to 10 people standing, no masks," BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno said. "That is a big no-no."

Opening Day comes as the city is seeing a rise in COVID cases, with young adults on the North Side driving the recent spike. Some outbreaks have stemmed from bar crawls.

Last weekend, city officials said they investigated more than 100 businesses for potential violations and issued seven citations.

"This is not the time to kind of take a step back," Escareno said. "We know people are tired, but we want people to know that if we catch individuals that are in violation, we're going to issue the violations."

Officials are also urging people to avoid large home gatherings to watch the game. If you do have people over, you're reminded to use masks and consider using the patio or backyard.
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