Published May 29, 2020
It’s true that good things tend to come in threes, and Chicago’s reopening is no different – on the third day of the month, Chicago is set to begin Phase Three and reopen restaurants for outdoor dining. While restaurants in other parts of Illinois began to reopen today, May 29, Chicagoans prepare for next week’s resurgence.
Restaurants can begin to open with sit-down dining, but only outdoors. Tight rules will be in effect with reduced capacity in place. Restaurants will only be allowed to serve patrons in outdoor areas; however, this includes tables that are inside yet close to garage-style doors or floor-to-ceiling windows that are thrown open. The city notes that “dining areas considered outdoors include rooftops, rooms with retractable roofs and indoor spaces where 50 percent or more of a wall can be removed via the opening of windows, doors, or panels provided that dining tables are within 8 feet from such openings.”
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Some safety measures restaurants are adopting include hand sanitizer readily available, touch-less temperature gauges, paper-disposable menus and individually packaged condiments. Workers will be required to wear facial coverings and barriers must be installed in areas where customers and employees are not able to remain six-feet apart.
Restaurateurs will have to put on their creativity caps to figure out how to make the most out of their outdoor space. Restaurants who rely heavily on indoor space may be able to capitalize on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s attempt to create a “"shared streets program using several streets as pathways to give people more room to walk, jog and bike.” The Department of Transportation is also working on plans to close off specific streets to accommodate additional outdoor seating. Six streets have been approved to close so far, including Randolph Street in the West Loop and Rush Street in the Gold Coast
When bars could reopen remains a question. However, last week Illinois state legislators approved “cocktails-to-go” legislation to help bars across the state sell takeaway alcoholic beverages. Lightfoot is drafting a Chicago-specific ordinance to be placed before the City Council committee on June 17.
“Hair done, nails done, everything did,” is in order as well, with barber shops and hair and nail salons preparing to open their doors next Wednesday, albeit with limited capacity and strict safety precautions.
Among Chicago’s Phase Three reopening plans are various industries including restaurants, child care facilities, nonessential retail stores, and hotels. Libraries and park buildings west of the lakefront will begin to reopen starting June 8.
Phase Three is coming into effect because of Chicagoans doing their part – staying home, wearing masks and helping stop the spread of COVID-10.