Starting Thursday, Oct. 1, Chicago will relax Phase Four guidelines for businesses, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Chicago Department of Public Health announced on Monday, Sept. 28.
According to a city news release, the new guidelines allow certain businesses to expand indoor capacity to 40 percent, permit restaurants and bars to serve alcohol until 1 a.m., authorize bars to reopen for indoor service at 25 percent capacity of 50 people, increase the maximum group sizes for after-school programs and fitness classes from 10 to 15 people and allow for personal services that necessitate the removal of masks, such as shaves and facials.
The decision to ease restrictions is based on improvement in COVID-19 metrics that include a test positivity rate below 5 percent, a decline in the number of new daily cases to approximately 300 a day — down from 350 per day and rising in August — and the lowest hospitalization and death rates the city has experienced in months.
“Over the past six months, we have asked so much of our business community," Lightfoot said in the release. "But each time, our businesses have stepped up to the plate. Thanks to this cooperation, we have met this challenging moment with grace, commitment and resilience, and the sacrifices made by our businesses, workers and residents have saved countless lives. This next step in our reopening is good news for business owners as well as the communities they serve and the thousands of residents that work for them.”
The new guidelines increasing indoor capacity apply to restaurants, personal services, health and fitness centers, non-essential retail and other establishments that have previously been limited to 25 percent indoor capacity, the press release states, noting that the 50-customer limit per room or space at restaurants, venues and other establishments will continue, along with the maximum of six people per table.
Under an additional set of guidelines, which also go into effect Oct. 1, seated customers must wear face coverings at all times unless eating or drinking; patrons at indoor bars and similar establishments must order from their seats rather than walking up to the bar; bars, taverns and breweries must make food available to patrons through a partnership with a food establishment; restaurants must retain contact information from customers for potential contact tracing; businesses must provide hand sanitizer upon entry; and personal services that necessitate the removal of a face covering are advised to be kept under 15 minutes, with the employee conducting the service wearing a face covering at all times.