Chicago is once again increasing the capacity of its restaurants and bars for its indoor dining service. This is thanks to the city reaching the threshold on multiple COVID-19 metrics that officials set had to be met to relax some of the restrictions earlier this month.
Authorities announced this Tuesday that, effective immediately, restaurants, bars and events can offer indoor service at 40% of their capacity or up to a maximum of 50 people, whichever is less. Remember that before Tuesday, the indoor service was limited to 35% of capacity.
The expansion of the interior service comes after the city registered fewer than 400 new cases of COVID-19 per day in a moving average of seven days for each of the last three days, health authorities reported.
That reduced the city to a “low” or “moderate” risk on the four metrics health officials designated earlier this month to determine indoor dining capacity.
Metrics where the city of Chicago is currently:
- COVID cases diagnosed per day: currently an average of 344. This number must be below 400 new cases per day to reach the “moderate risk” level.
- COVID test positivity: currently with an average of 3.6%, at the level of “Low risk”.
- Visits to the Emergency Department for COVID-like illnesses: currently an average of 62 per day, at the “Moderate Risk” level
- ICU beds occupied by COVID patients: currently an average of 117, at the “Moderate Risk” level.
Capacity can increase to 50% after two weeks of successfully maintaining “moderate risk” levels across all four metrics.
“In the past few days, we have made incredible progress in the ongoing effort to save lives and defeat this deadly virus,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “I am delighted that we have made sufficient progress to cautiously relax more regulations, but once again I want to remind all of our businesses and residents that we are not out of the woods yet. Only by committing ourselves to what we know works can we continue to move forward with care and responsibility ”.
While capacity is expanding, the restrictions that remain in place are:
- Food service must be provided at all times in order to provide indoor care. This means that bars, taverns, or breweries without a food license can reopen indoors as long as they partner with a food establishment so that food is available to customers at all times.
- Maximum of six clients at indoor or outdoor tables
- Customers can sit on the bars, with six feet of social distance between them.
- The mask must be worn at all times, except when clients are sitting and eating or drinking.
- Tables must be six feet apart
- Establishments must close the on-site service at 12:00 am
- The sale of alcohol must end at 11:00 pm
- The city entered Phase 4 of the Illinois coronavirus mitigations on January 31.
But as restrictions were relaxed when Chicago entered Phase 4, Mayor Lightfoot and the city’s health authorities decided not to increase the indoor dining capacity limit in accordance with state guidelines, leaving it at a minimum of 25% or 25 people. per room.
Explaining the decision to lower the State’s Phase 4 guidelines, Chicago health officials said it was “standard public health practice” to monitor the impact of any significant mitigation changes for a minimum of two weeks.
Sunday, February 14, marked two weeks since Chicago entered Phase 4 mitigations. Partial indoor dining resumed in the city on January 23, when the city reached the threshold to move from Level 2 mitigations to Low Level 1. the state reopening framework.