Chicago restaurants, bars can open indoor dining starting June 26, Mayor Lightfoot says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Restaurants, bars and breweries will be able to resume indoor dining on June 26, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Friday.

"Our neighborhood restaurants, bars and breweries all stand as among the most cherished parts of our communities and are integral to the fabric of our entire city," Lightfoot said in a statement. "Like all Chicagoans, I am personally excited to see them take these new, cautious steps towards safely reopening, and commend their collaboration throughout this unprecedented crisis."

It's welcome news for struggling restaurants and bars in Chicago.

"I think it's great," said Amy Laria, owner of Flo in West Town. "It's a step in the right direction. We're moving towards more normalcy and hopefully getting back on track.
Restaurants and bars will be able to allow indoor service at 25 percent capacity with a maximum capacity of 50 people per room or floor, according to the city. Tables must be 6 feet apart, and there must be 10 or fewer people at each table.

Alcohol sales at bars and restaurants for on-site consumption must still end by 11 p.m. each night, while the sale of alcohol for carryout or delivery must cease at 9 p.m. each night.

The move will allow Flo to rehire some staff.

"It's not a game changer, no," said Laria. "But again, it's just, it's nice to at least be able to open the doors and have people come in."

The move will allow Harry Caray's to reopen three currently closed locations, including their flagship restaurant in River North, but it's not a cure-all.

"Twenty-five percent, the amount of revenue you can get from that will not cover your labor costs and everything, so we will lose money at that low number," Grant DePorter, CEO of Harry Caray's Restaurant Group. "And at 50 percent, maybe we can break even."
If the city continues to see a further decline in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalization rates, the city could allow for restaurants to expand their capacity to 50 percent.

But the Illinois Restaurant Association said it's been told the rest of the state will be at 50 percent starting next Friday, and said the city should follow suit.

"It's a step in the direction, but the restaurant industry has been hemorrhaging out here for 12 weeks. Half the restaurants have done no sales. The other half have done 20 to 30 percent of the sales they were doing a year ago," said Sam Toia, president and CEO of the IRA.

Regulations governing outdoor service will remain the same, and the city said restaurants and bars should continue making outdoor service a priority.

"We want to give restaurants and bars ample time to prepare for indoor service so they can take this next step carefully and safely. We have made significant progress over the last few weeks and it is critical that our reopening efforts don't come at the expense of the health of our community," said Rosa Escareno, Business Affairs and Consumer Protections commissioner.

"While we're all excited to further re-open our city we must do it the right way and continue to follow the guidance and take the necessary precautions," CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. "We've seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in cities and states that re-opened earlier than us, and we would all hate to see a similar set back here."
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