- Following an increase in positivity rates of COVID-19 and hospitalizations in the City of Chicago, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health will require bars and restaurants to suspend indoor dining and bar service beginning Friday, according to a press release.
- Outdoor dining and bar service will be allowed until 11 p.m., tables must be six feet apart, no congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table will be allowed and reservations will be required for each party.
- Chicago is among the first major cities to reclose dining rooms due to growing concerns about a second wave of coronavirus, and follows similar mitigation efforts in the Metro East and Suburban Cook County regions that went into effect Wednesday. New York City, on the other hand, has been shutting down or restricting dine-in within neighborhoods and boroughs depending on positivity rates.
A resurgence in COVID-19 cases is putting restaurants at odds with local and state governments. In Wisconsin, a group of restaurants sued the state after the governor ordered indoor dining capacity to reduce to 25%. Just as Chicago restaurants started to begin to recoup lost dine-in dollars — indoor capacity was increased to 40% Oct. 1 — they are now facing closures for an unforeseen amount of time. Dozens of restaurants in the city have already permanently closed, while roughly one in six have closed nationwide. Since Oct. 15, new daily cases have ranged from 4,000 to nearly 6,000 in Cook County, compared to about 1,000 to 2,000 new cases in September and August.
The resurgence of cases also comes after the nationwide average number of weekly visits were starting to rise, reaching 2.99 average visits during the week of Sept. 28 compared to 2.38 average visits during the week of April 6, according to a Technomic survey of 500 consumers. But the average number of visits per week is down about 13% from a peak of 3.44 weekly visits from earlier this year.
Differing state and local restrictions are also likely to cause confusion, such as the case in New York City in early October when both New York City’s mayor and New York’s governor issued different guidelines for restaurants and businesses. On Oct. 22, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a 10 p.m. curfew for outdoor dining and a 9 p.m. curfew on alcohol service, which is at odds with the mitigation efforts that go into effect on Friday.
While these new restrictions will hurt restaurants’ bottom lines, Illinois is providing $220 million in business interruption grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic with applications now live. DoorDash, in collaboration with the Illinois Restaurant Association, is offering $500,000 in grants to help Chicago restaurants winterize their outdoor dining spaces. The Illinois Restaurant Association is offering one-time grants for restaurant employees out of work for three or more weeks without unemployment benefits or those diagnosed or having to take care of a family member with the coronavirus.