Customers will be allowed back inside at bars and restaurants in Chicago and suburban Cook County beginning Saturday, barring a sudden reversal in improving coronavirus infection rates.
The city and Cook County will move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation plan as long as “metrics continue to improve or are stable,” the Illinois Department of Public Health announced today.
Tier 1 mitigations allow restaurants and bars that serve food to seat customers inside at the lesser of 25% capacity or 25 people per room. Bars that don’t serve food still aren’t allowed to invite patrons inside. Pritzker’s office has cited studies suggesting indoor establishments are viral super-spreading sites.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot limited the establishments to outdoor service and takeout in late October at the onset of the state’s record-breaking fall resurgence, which prompted Pritzker to nix indoor service statewide in mid-November. Lightfoot has since called for Pritzker to allow for limited reopening as infection rates have improved since the holidays.
The Democratic governor began throwing life rafts to the decimated hospitality industry last weekend, loosening the rigid infection and hospital metrics the state’s 11 regions are required to meet to see restrictions lifted.
Chicago and suburban Cook County will officially shed their current Tier 2 mitigations with three consecutive days of positivity rates below 8%. The regions first fell below that mark Thursday, with Chicago at 7.8% positivity and Cook County at 7.9%.
Bars that don’t serve food are allowed to reopen when a region enters Phase 4, which requires three consecutive days below 6.5% positivity.
So far, indoor service has already been allowed to resume in six of the state’s 11 regions, though hundreds of businesses have openly defied Pritzker’s order.