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Photograph: Anthony Tahlier

Chicago brings back indoor dining at 25 percent capacity

Here's what to know before you dine out.

By
Morgan Olsen
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State officials have given Chicago bars and restaurants the green light to bring back indoor dining, as Region 11 advances to Tier 1 mitigations on Saturday, January 23. The move was made official today after Chicago managed to stabilize its COVID-19 metrics, most notably keeping its test positivity rate below 8 percent for three consecutive days.

It will be the first time since late October that restaurants and bars are allowed to offer indoor service, so don't expect everything to open all at once. Hospitality owners will also need to reckon with the Tier 1 mitigation requirements and determine if reopening is sensible and safe for business.

For now, bars and restaurants can operate at 25 percent capacity or 25 people per room, whichever is fewer. Reservations will be required, and your stay shouldn't last more than two hours. Parties are limited to four people, and the state recommends only dining with members of your household for now. Here's a look at some of the other requirements in place for Tier 1:

  • Bars and restaurants must close by 11pm and reopen no earlier than 6am the following day.
  • Establishments offering indoor service must serve food. 
  • Patrons should be seated at tables and should not order, sit or congregate at the bar.
  • Tables should be spaced 6 feet apart.
  • Patrons should not congregate indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting. 
  • Patrons should not dance or stand indoors.
  • Multiple parties may not be seated at the same table.

If you do plan to dine out right away, it's important to call ahead and make sure that your favorite restaurant is ready to welcome you in. Before you rush out the door, don't forget to wear a mask and practice patience—both will go a long way as Chicago restaurants and bars spring back to life.

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