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Photograph: Martha Williams

Chicago eases capacity restrictions for restaurants, bars and fitness centers

Here's what you need to know.

By
Morgan Olsen
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The city of Chicago will again loosen its reopening guidelines on Thursday, October 1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed residents today to announce that restaurants and fitness centers will be allowed to boost capacity from 25 percent to 40 percent. The only caveat? The limit of 50 people per space still stands.

"We still have a long way ahead on our recovery journey," Lightfoot noted. "I think everyone can understand that. Being able to open further today is just one small step based on what we're seeing in the data."

Bars and breweries will also see some relief come Thursday: Lightfoot announced that those without a retail food license can reopen indoor seating at 25 percent capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer. Guests will still be limited to a two-hour stay and they must remain seated when eating, drinking and ordering (no queuing up at the bar). Bar owners should still partner with a restaurant or food truck to ensure that food is available at all times, though this can be as simple as offering delivery menus from nearby spots. For restaurants and bars, the maximum party size remains at six people per table.

Bars and restaurants with a liquor license will be able to sell alcohol on- and off-site until 1am and can stay open until 1:30am. It's important to note that liquor stores and other retail shops that sell booze will still need to cut off alcohol sales at 9pm.

The city is also making it mandatory for patrons wear a mask at all times unless they're actively eating and drinking—that's a slight bump up in caution from the Illinois mandate that requires diners to wear a mask when interacting with servers. Additionally, restaurants and bars are being asked to gather email addresses and phone numbers from all guests to facilitate with contact tracing. This goes for patrons with reservations as well as walk-in clientele.

On the health and fitness front, the city will also see some new guidelines in place come Thursday. Personal services like facials and beard trims will be permitted to resume but should be kept under 15 minutes with the employee wearing a face covering at all times. Group fitness classes and after-school programs will also see a bump in capacity, from 10 to 15 people.

Want to know more? The city of Chicago outlines these guidelines at length in its Reopening Business Portal.

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