CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday that the City of Chicago will allow bars and breweries to reopen for outdoor service this coming Wednesday, June 17, and the Lakefront Trail will follow Monday, June 22.
“We are thrilled to be taking these long-awaited steps forward in reopening our city by safely bringing our bars back online with outside service, and, of course, taking our first, cautious move toward reopening our beloved lakefront,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a news release. “Though we still have a long way to go before life fully returns to normal, we are able to make these important steps thanks to the commitment and collaboration with our local businesses who have been true partners throughout this unprecedented crisis, as well as our fellow Chicagoans who have done their part to keep their communities protected by being responsible and preventing the spread of this disease.”
Effective this coming Wednesday, bars, lounges, taverns, breweries, and other businesses that sell alcohol, but not food, may reopen for outdoor service only.
They will be subject to the same health and safety restrictions as restaurants have been following since June 3, including requiring people to be seated six feet apart with six or fewer people per table.
Seating at drinking establishments will also be limited to two hours, and alcohol sales at bars and restaurants for onsite consumption will only be allowed until 11 p.m. Sales of alcohol for carry-out or delivery will end at 9 p.m.
Bars may reopen outdoor patios, rooftops, rooms with retractable roofs, and indoor spaces where at least 50 percent of a wall can be removed by opening windows, doors, or panels provided that dining tables are eight feet away.
Establishments with a tavern license are also eligible for an Expanded Outdoor Dining Permit to expand onto private property including parking lots, and may also participate in the city’s Our Streets program to close streets for outdoor dining.
“Craft brewers across the city are grateful to Mayor Lightfoot and her team for their efforts to include brewery taprooms in phase three for outdoor dining. We look forward to safely reopening with continued adherence to all the guidelines provided by our public health officials,’ Kevin Cary, Owner of Begyle Brewing and President of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, said in the news release.
Hagen Dost owns Dovetail Brewery at 1800 W. Belle Plaine Ave. along Malt Row in the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor. For a business that wets whistles, it’s been a dry three months.
“My guess is we’ll have about three tables out here,” Dost told CBS 2’s Chris Tye.
Expanding the foot of his taproom to an outside area will allow Dost to comply with the new city policy. An if not for the policy, he may have bene facing a curtain call.
“The clock was definitely ticking,” Dost said.
Dost needs a new license to make the outside spot work. He’s confident and pleasantly surprised with how the city handled the situation.
“We have a lot of work to do ourselves – how to do all this safely,” he said.
The city said the decision to reopen was based on continued positive trends in COVID-19 numbers in Chicago. Wednesday, June 17 was chosen as it is two weeks since the beginning of Phase 3, and the incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to extend 14 days.
Excited to share the news… our Lakefront Trail will be reopening on June 22 for exercise and transit!
To ensure we continue the progress we've made flattening the curve, Social Distancing Ambassadors will be along the route to ensure a safe experience for Chicagoans. pic.twitter.com/zWVlQBW4K9
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) June 15, 2020
Meanwhile, beginning Monday, June 22, the Lakefront Trail will open east of Lake Shore Drive from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. But beaches and parks east of Lake Shore Drive will remain closed.
The Lakefront Trail will only be open for exercise and transit, and no other recreational activity will be allowed. Everyone who uses it will be required to keep it moving – that is, only walking, running, biking, and rollerblading will be allowed.
Congregating, gathering, or using park resources such as stationary activities, fitness classes, barbecues, beaches, and picnicking will remain forbidden.
Chicago swimming pools and playgrounds will also remain closed while public health officials advise the Park District on how to open them safely, and basketball courts, tennis courts, athletic fields, and outdoor fitness equipment also still may not be used.
Social distancing ambassadors will be posted along the lakefront trail to remind people of the rules.
The Park District also said in a news release that it will minimize access to the trail by limiting access points to certain bridges, underpasses, and streets to 50 percent. Park District security, Chicago Police, and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications will work together to keep the trail safe under guidance from public health officials.
Lakefront parking lots will also remain closed.
“The trail is one of our city’s most treasured lakefront amenities,” Chicago Park District General Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer Michael Kelly said in a news release. “We are excited to share plans to reopen the trail, encourage active living and provide guidance on how people can begin resuming activities safely.”
Because of storm damage and high lake levels, three sections of the lakefront trail were merge. There will be a shared trail between Fullerton and North avenues, users will be detoured onto the street from North Avenue to Ohio Street, and users will merge onto one trail between 43rd Street and East Hyde Park Boulevard.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported Sunday that confusion has been rampant on the Lakefront Trail, which has been closed since shortly after the State of Illinois issued a stay-at-home order in March.
“For the past few weeks, everybody is unsure if the lakefront is open, so I think they just need to have it posted somewhere,” said Marcella Kukulka.
CBS 2 saw spotty enforcement of the rules. In some cases, people rode right by officers.
When Mayor Lightfoot first instructed police to stand guard on the Lakefront Trail, her goal was to stop crowds from potentially spreading COVID-19 on the lakefront.
Information about the city’s Protecting Chicago framework for reopening is available at chicago.gov/reopening.