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Old Posted Sep 29, 2020, 12:34 AM
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Citing a downward trend in COVID-19 cases, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’s easing restrictions on indoor bars, restaurants, fitness class sizes: ‘People have risen to the occasion’

By Gregory Pratt, John Byrne, Josh Noel and Grace Wong

Chicago Tribune |

Sep 28, 2020 at 7:11 PM

All summer long, Chicagoans were told to stay outside, socially distance themselves and wear masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot playing the stern disciplinarian making sure everyone complied.

Now, with the cold months bearing down on the city, Lightfoot is loosening the pandemic rules to welcome more people to get together inside bars and other businesses.

The science shows it’s an appropriate move, Lightfoot argued Monday in announcing bars that don’t serve food can reopen for indoor drinking and restaurants, gyms and other retailers can up their capacity.

The changes are Lightfoot’s latest attempt to ease the financial burden on Chicago businesses by lifting frequently criticized restrictions.

On Monday, the mayor defended the decision. She eased up on the no-nonsense pose she has struck over the past several months of frequently scolding residents for falling short in meeting the safety standards to instead applaud the collective effort she said makes it possible to now let more Chicagoans safely gather together inside.

“Over the past six months, we’ve had to make difficult decisions, as you all know, all of which were rooted in what we were seeing in our city’s COVID-19 data,” Lightfoot said. “Asking residents and workers and businesses to make a lot of sacrifices in the name of public safety and public health.

“And people have risen to the occasion all over the city. It’s because of this citywide cooperation and collaboration that Chicago never saw a huge surge in cases once we started to gently reopen.”

Lightfoot has been eager to showcase Chicago as America’s most open big city during the pandemic, while also pledging to heed scientific advice on how much leeway to give businesses and other public places where people congregate.

Ultimately, he said, the looser restrictions are heartening.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Williams said.


Monday’s announcement keeps the city in phase four of its reopening framework but moderates several standards.

Starting Thursday, the city will allow shaves, facials and other personal services that previously were banned because they required the removal of face masks, but said they need to take no longer than 15 minutes.


With Chicago weather getting dodgier deeper into autumn, the city’s hundreds of bar operators have been clamoring to again open their doors to drinkers, arguing the distinction between those businesses that serve food and those that don’t is in many cases not relevant.

According to Lightfoot’s plan, ... “turn up the dimmer switch” on a return to normal within phase four.

The Illinois Restaurant Association praised Lightfoot’s announcement, as did the Hospitality Business Association of Chicago.

Scott Weiner, co-owner of The Fifty/50 restaurant group and an Illinois Restaurant Association executive board member, said the relaxed restrictions will greatly benefit bars and restaurants,...

“This is important, this is definitely a positive step in the right direction and this is going to help a lot of neighborhood restaurants,” Weiner said.

Increased hours of operation make a big difference, he said, but he wished this news came a month earlier, …

And Pat Odon, manager of Nisei Lounge in Wrigleyville, praised the move allowing bars to serve alcohol until 1 a.m., instead of 11 p.m.

“That’s huge,” Odon said. “That’s a whole extra turn of customers.”


Last edited by Steely Dan; Sep 29, 2020 at 4:38 AM.
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