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Easing Of Phase 4 Business Guidelines Begins Thursday

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) today announced that Chicago has made sufficient progress in the fight against COVID-19 to ease certain restrictions on businesses. Effective Thursday, October 1, new guidelines for businesses will come into effect that will expand indoor capacity to 40% for certain businesses, reopen bars for indoor service, allow restaurants and bars to serve alcohol until 1:00 AM, increase maximum group sizes for fitness classes and after-school programming and allow personal services that require the removal of masks. These changes build on Chicago’s status as one of the most open large cities in America and are possible due to continued improvement on crucial COVID health metrics, including a declining number of new daily cases, a test positivity rate now below 5% and the lowest rates of hospitalization and death in months.

Chicago is now seeing around 300 new COVID cases per day, whereas in late August, the city was over 350 cases per day and rising. Test positivity (the percentage of COVID tests with a positive result) has fallen to 4.5% and severe outcomes have also improved, with hospitalizations from COVID lower than they’ve been since March and deaths at an average of 2-3 per day, when they were around 50 per day at the peak of the pandemic.

Effective Thursday, October 1, at 5:00 AM, the following guidelines will come into effect:

  • Increased Indoor Capacity: Restaurants, health and fitness centers, personal services, non-essential retail and all other establishments that have been limited to 25% indoor capacity will now be able to increase their maximum indoor capacity to 40%. The limit of 50 total customers within one room or space at restaurants, venues and other establishments will remain in place, as will the limit of no more than six people per table. 
  • Reopening of Bars: Breweries, taverns, bars and other establishments that serve alcohol without a food license may reopen with indoor seating, at 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer. Service remains limited to no more than two hours per party, and customers must be seated when eating, drinking or ordering – patrons cannot walk up to the bar to order.
  • Extended Hours for Bars and Restaurants: Bars, restaurants and other establishments that serve alcohol will now be able to sell alcohol for on-site or off-site consumption until 1:00 am and may remain open until 1:30 am. Liquor stores, grocery stores and other establishments that sell alcohol to-go through a Packaged Goods license must continue to cease alcohol sales at 9:00 p.m.
  • Increased Group Size: Maximum group size for health and fitness classes and after-school programming will increase from 10 to 15 people.
  • Expanded Personal Services: Facials, shaves and other personal services that require the removal of face coverings will be allowed.

While enough progress has been made to ease certain business restrictions, Chicago calls on all customers to continue following Phase 4 guidelines. In order to continue our significant progress against COVID-19, the following additional guidelines will come into effect at the same time:

  • When dining out at a food service establishment or bar, customers must always wear face coverings while seated, except when actively eating or drinking. This protects employees that may interact closely with patrons. 
  • Patrons at indoor bars, taverns and breweries must order from their seats – they cannot walk up to the bar to order.
  • Bars, taverns and breweries that are reopening indoors must partner with a food establishment so that food is available to patrons at all times (e.g., making menus available and allowing delivery, allowing patrons to order from third-party delivery services).
  • When taking reservations and seating walk-in customers, restaurants and bars should retain an email and/or phone number for possible contact tracing.
  • Personal services that require the removal of face coverings are recommended to be kept under 15 minutes, and the employee conducting the service must always wear a face covering.
  • All places of business should provide hand sanitizer for patrons and employees to use upon entry.

To prepare all business owners for the new phase four guidelines and for the cold weather regulations, the City of Chicago will be hosting a series of webinars this week. To register and learn more, visit chicago.gov/businesseducation. Learn more about easing specifics by clicking the button below.

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