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Photograph: Melissa Hom

Illinois bars and restaurants can reopen outdoor seating on May 29

Patio season isn't cancelled after all.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

Update: In a press conference on May 21, Mayor Lori Lightfoot made it clear that the city of Chicago won't be ready to open outdoor dining just yet"I don't think we're going to be ready by May 29, but my hope is that soon in June that we will be ready," she said. While Chicago's reopening timeline may continue to lag behind the state's, Mayor Lightfoot's rationale is that more time is needed to establish guidelines that keep employees and patrons safe. We'll continue to update our news section as this story develops.

Bar and restaurant patios can reopen as soon as next week, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's latest announcement on some groundbreaking adjustments he's making to the state's phased plan to reopen.

In a press conference this afternoon, Gov. Pritzker revealed that Phase 3—which is slated to begin on May 29—will include some concessions for the hospitality industry. Though indoor dining will still have to wait until Phase 4 of the state's plan, bars and restaurants with outdoor spaces can reopen in Phase 3.

"The epidemiologists now believe that summer offers us an opportunity, if proper precautions are taken by businesses and their patrons," Gov. Pritzker said. "So after listening to and working with restaurant industry representatives, together with our epidemiologists, today I'm announcing an additional option for bars and restaurants interested in resuming operations earlier: opening for outdoor seating when Phase 3 begins, likely for everyone, just nine days from now."

Gov. Pritzker was quick to note that he'll be working with mayors across the state to roll out this plan safely, so we can expect to hear more Chicago-specific details from Mayor Lori Lightfoot soon. He alluded to some safety guidelines that we can expect statewide, too.

"With the right restrictions, tables 6 feet apart and away from the sidewalks, masks and distancing measure for staff and other precautions, the experts believe that these services can open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities and give our hospitality industry a much-needed boost as they work to keep their businesses on their feet during this terrible crisis," Gov. Pritzker said.

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