Chicago indoor dining opens as city, suburban Cook Co. move to Tier 1

CHICAGO (WLS) — From Chicago to Suburban Cook County, numerous are commemorating the turning point as “a step towards normal” in what has actually been extremely irregular times.

Chicago and Cook County were moved Tier 1 mitigations on Saturday, state health authorities revealed, providing dining establishments and bars the all-clear to resume some indoor dining.

VIEW: Gov. Pritzker offers newest on vaccines, constraints, brand-new variation on Jan. 22, 2021

“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,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated in a declaration Saturday. “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.”

Rick Bayless, Chicago chef and restauranteur stated the resuming will breathe much-needed life to a deflated market.

“I will tell you there were so many people on our staff here that were actually in tears when our first customers came back in,” Bayless stated, who is the owner and chef at Frontera Grill.

His personnel has actually been tracking local COVID-19 positivity rates in anticipation of getting consumers back inside.

“When the rumors started swirling around our staff that it was going to be able to happen, there was a spike in everybody’s eyes to be able to know that we’re going to be able to do what we do best once again and that’s an exciting thing for us in the hospitality profession,” stated Casey Cora, Frontera Grill representative.

“We have been busy today. Thank God! It’s a blessing to be back open,” stated Peytyn Willborn, owner of Reality Italian Dining establishment in the city’s Bronzeville area.

Back in rural Cook County, company owner rejoiced as they invited consumers back inside after the city and rural Cook County were formally offered the consent to move into Tier 1.

“As soon as I saw that email, it was a breath of fresh air,” stated Chris Manolis, Owner of Blueberry Hill Breakfast Coffee Shop.

Nevertheless, Peytyn Willborn is still meticulously positive, understanding with this pandemic anything can alter.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed. We don’t want to get too excited because she might shut us back down in a month or two weeks and we’re back to where we started,” stated Willborn, the owner of Reality Italian Dining establishment in the city’s South Side.

Both Chicago and Cook County dining establishments and bars are now able to resume for restricted indoor dining as the COVID-19 test positivity rates in Areas 10 and 11 continue trending down.

“So we will be able to know tomorrow if they in fact meet their criteria and it’s looking like they will get there. So that announcement will be made tomorrow,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike stated.

Under the Tier 1 constraints, bars and dining establishments can open for indoor dining at 25% capability or 25 individuals max per space. Food should be readily available at all times, however can be supplied by outdoors suppliers for those without a food license. Tables need to be 6 feet apart, face coverings needed other than when actively consuming or consuming and facilities need to nearby 11 p.m.

“I think that we should be opening everything back up as soon as it’s possible to do so safely and so I’m happy that we’re on that path,” stated Lakeview resident Elan Karoll.

The city will be reacting to grievances of outright infractions, however expects great compliance from bars and dining establishments.

“And I think this is why you see the progress in the numbers continuing to go down, because for the most part, people are really trying to do their best to keep, not only their customers, but their families and their employees safe,” Chicago Dept. of Company Affairs and Customer Security Commissioner Rosa Escareno stated.

Lori Lightfoot provided a declaration Friday that stated: “I am thrilled that Chicago has made sufficient progress in the ongoing fight against the deadly COVID-19 virus to allow indoor service at bars and restaurants in the very near future. This pandemic has been devastating for businesses and their workers, especially for bars and restaurants, and I know that this move will provide much-needed relief at a critical time. Our businesses have stepped up repeatedly to save lives throughout this crisis and I am thrilled that we will soon be ready to take this step to reopen more businesses and get employees back to work. As we prepare for easing of restrictions, I call on all of our businesses and residents to once more commit to what works to fight the spread of COVID-19. Only by wearing masks, maintaining social distance, avoiding large gatherings, following the business regulations and getting the vaccine when it is available, will we be able to continue moving forward in our reopening plan.”

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Tier 1 mitigation procedures presently permit the following:

Dining Establishments and Bars

Can resume inside at lower of 25% or 25 individuals per area
Food need to be readily available at all times in order to use indoor service. This implies that bars, pubs or breweries without a food license can resume inside as long as they partner with a food facility so that food is readily available to clients at all times (e.g., making menus readily available and enabling shipment, enabling clients to purchase from third-party shipment services).
Table size restricted to no greater than 4 individuals per indoor table and 6 individuals per outside table
Face coverings need to be used at all times, other than when clients are seated and actively consuming or consuming.
Patrons need to be seated whenever they are consuming or consuming
Tables need to be 6 feet apart
Indoor service restricted to no greater than 2 hours
All bars and dining establishments need to close at 11 p.m.

Conferences, Gathering and Events

Occasions will be restricted to lower 25 visitors or 25% of total space capability both inside and outdoors
Indoor occasions will have the ability to serve food or beverages, however indoor service standards need to be followed:
o Face coverings need to be used at all times, other than when clients are seated and actively consuming or drinking
o Four individuals per indoor table
o Patrons need to be seated whenever they are consuming or consuming
o Tables need to be 6 feet apart
o Indoor occasions need to end at 11 p.m.
Family events restricted to no greater than 10 individuals

Other Industries

The majority of other markets restricted to 40% capability with 50 individuals max within a space or area
Indoor physical fitness classes can broaden to the lower of 15 individuals or 40% capability
Face coverings used at all times, with the exception of restricted circumstances such as for individual services that need their elimination

“We’re just adding classes exponentially to accommodate the demand, but it’s an exciting time. It brings a tremendous amount of energy back into the locations,” stated Windstorm Landers, creator and CEO of Physical Fitness Solution Clubs.

VIEW: Indoor dining returns in Will, Kankakee counties

State health authorities revealed that Illinois Area 7 – Kankakee and Will counties – had actually moved into Tier 1 mitigation Thursday, enabling indoor dining establishment and bar dining service for approximately 25 individuals or 25% capability per space, whichever is less individuals.

Some dining establishments, consisting of George’s in Lockport, have actually been serving consumers inside even while it was formally prohibited by the state. However the group there is still delighted by the news and hope it will make more consumers feel safe sufficient to drop in for a bite. Supervisor Lauren Straub stated she was elated to discover that restricted indoor dining can resume in Will and Kankakee counties.

“People are gonna feel comfortable and, you know, want to come in and they feel safe enough to come in and dine with us,” Straub stated.

In neighboring Romeoville, Gio’s breakfast was still mainly empty after the indoor dining reboot statement. However supervisor Giselle Evangelista is believing her dining-room will be an appealing choice for individuals wishing to keep their social range.

“It’s really really big,” Evangelista stated. “I feel like people are gonna see that on our Facebook page.”

And with more in-person dining, she’s hoping her personnel will see more pointers – which have not been as numerous with take-out orders.

“Since our servers rely on tips, that will help us out a lot more because that’s basically what we live off,” she stated.

VIEW: Why some dining establishments will not resume even if constraints loosen up

Even when constraints are raised in the city, some dining establishments still will not be resuming in the meantime.

“25% (capacity) makes us lose money, 50% (capacity) makes us lose money,” stated Jodi Fyfe, owner of Eden in the West Loop.

However for Chicago dining establishments that wish to resume indoor dining, city authorities state that might be possible as quickly as this weekend if the present patterns hold.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.