Starting Friday, October 23, Chicago will implement a new set of COVID-19 safety measures—including a ban on indoor bar service and a 10pm restaurant curfew—designed to quell what Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls an “out-of-control” outbreak of the virus.
As part of the rules, which were announced at a Thursday afternoon press conference, bars and breweries that don't serve food on premises (often referred to as “taverns”) will no longer be able to serve patrons indoors. Restaurants and non-essential businesses—think hair salons, non-grocery retail stores and the like—will have to close at 10pm, and liquor sales must end at 9pm. Additionally, Chicagoans are asked to limit their “personal bubble” of friends and family members to no more than six people. Lightfoot also asked that face coverings be worn in all indoor and outdoor public settings. That includes city employees like police and firefighters, Lightfoot added, who have recently come under fire for not wearing masks in public.
“If you’re a city employee, I’m telling you now, as your boss, as your mayor, you must wear a mask, period,” Lightfoot said.
The new restrictions follow a warning from Lightfoot earlier this week that Chicago soon could step back to Phase 3 safety guidelines if cases continue to rise—and to be clear, these new guidelines aren't as strict as those laid out in Phase 3 (which includes restrictions like a ban on indoor dining service). Still, in the Thursday press conference, Lightfoot didn't mince words about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic: With an average of 640 new daily cases and a positivity rate of 6.4 percent, the city is “no doubt whatsoever in a second surge,” Lightfoot said. Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, added that cases are rising faster than they did during the first wave of the virus earlier this year.
So what comes next? Officials said Thursday that when the city hits an 8 percent positivity rate, indoor dining will once again be banned, and even stricter rollbacks could follow. They urged Chicagoans to buckle down—that means cutting back on socializing, staying inside when possible and (of course) wearing a mask.
“If we need to take further steps and move back into Phase 3, or even going back to shelter in place, I’m not going to hesitate to do that,” Lightfoot said. “I hope that won’t be necessary, but it’s all in your hands.”
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