Bars and restaurants in Chicago resumed indoor service over the weekend, in the latest reopening move since President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Democrats governing Michigan, Illinois, and Washington have issued orders that indoor dining should resume in the past week, after shutting down such services last year. California Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted stay-at-home orders across the state on Jan. 25, with officials in many counties announcing that they would move to allow the reopening of outdoor restaurant dining.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said over the weekend that suburban Cook County and the city of Chicago could move to tier one in the state’s CCP virus plan. Tier one allows indoor service but limits it to the lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent capacity per room.
People are also forbidden to stand or dance indoors, and reservations are required for each party, with no seating of multiple parties at one table.
The movement came because the CCP virus test positivity rate and several other metrics were met, officials said.
Illinois Restaurant Association President and CEO Sam Toia told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement, “While every step towards reopening indoor dining is a positive one, these limited parameters fall short of the restaurant industry’s critical needs and expectations.”
The association “will continue to press for more pragmatic reopening regulations in addition to greater support for Illinois restaurants and hospitality businesses at the city, state, and federal levels,” Toia said.
Chicago officials said the city is in phase four, the second-loosest phase. The phase is for gradually resuming activities, but requires people to keep wearing face coverings and physically distancing.
“We have long pushed for the careful resumption of limited indoor dining, and I am thrilled that we have made enough progress in the fight against COVID-19 to reopen our businesses and bring workers back,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, said in a statement.
“As we enter this next phase, I again call on all businesses and residents to make sure we continue moving forward by following the guidelines for safe indoor dining and committing to the safety precautions that helped us flatten the curve a second time.”
Lightfoot said shortly before Biden was inaugurated that she wanted restaurants and bars to reopen. Chicago’s restaurants and bars were ordered to close indoor services in October 2020.
Rick Bayless, Chicago chef and restaurateur, told ABC 7 that “there were so many people on our staff here that were actually in tears when our first customers came back in.”
Peytyn Willborn, owner of Truth Italian Restaurant, said: “We have been busy today. Thank God! It’s a blessing to be back open.”