CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago residents can now order pre-mixed cocktails for pickup or delivery from Chicago bars and restaurants, after the City Council approved an ordinance to provide another source of revenue for businesses devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation allowing for cocktails to go throughout Illinois, subject to local approval.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Illinois: Infection Rate Continues To Drop; State Reports Fewest Hospitalizations In More Than 6 Weeks
The ordinance unanimously approved by aldermen on Wednesday would allow bars and restaurants with liquor licenses, but not liquor stores, to offer pre-mixed cocktails for pickup or delivery. The cocktails would have to be sold in sealed, labeled, tamper-evident containers. Third-party delivery companies like DoorDash and Uber Eats would be prohibited from delivering cocktails.
The law allowing cocktails to go is set to expire June 2, 2021, but some aldermen have suggested it should be made permanent.
Approval of cocktails to go in Chicago comes on the same day bars and taverns across the city were allowed to open outdoor dining areas. Restaurants have been allowed to serve outdoors since June 3, but both bars and restaurants must still keep their indoor seating areas closed.
In other business, aldermen also approved an ordinance to expedite the approval of sidewalk café permits for the next several months.
The measure would allow the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to issue permits to any business that meets the requirements, without first needing City Council approval. The expedited permit process would expire next March.
That process typically takes weeks, as the committee votes once a month on dozens of sidewalk café applications, but BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno said the department now will be able to approve permits within 5 to 10 business days of receiving all the necessary paperwork.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
The ordinance also reduces the application fee by 75%, which Escareno said will save businesses at least $450, and potentially thousands of dollars. Sidewalk café permit fees are based on the size of the café and the value of the land it occupies.
The measure will allow restaurants to more easily serve food outdoors during Phase 3 of the city’s reopening plan. For more than two months, restaurants in Chicago had been limited to curbside pickup or delivery only, until June 3, when the city allowed them to open outdoor dining areas. Bars and taverns that don’t serve food also were allowed to open their outdoor seating areas on Wednesday.
In addition to fast-tracking sidewalk café permits, the ordinance would establish rules for restaurants seeking to expand their sidewalk cafés into the street, or onto neighboring private property, under the city’s “Make Way For Dining” plan to close six city streets to through traffic this summer and allow restaurants to expand outdoor dining.
City officials have said sidewalk cafés are normally not the option for many restaurants, and the new program will allow them to offer outdoor dining by setting up seating on city streets, or the sidewalks of neighboring businesses — with certain limits.
Under the ordinance, businesses that expand sidewalk cafés onto the street or onto neighboring private property would have to carry insurance for the entire café, and would not be allowed to obstruct the view of a neighboring property’s windows or block their doors. Sidewalk cafés also could not be expanded onto property owned by another retail food or liquor establishment.
Businesses that expand their outdoor dining areas onto private property also would have to notify their neighbor of their application for a permit.MORE NEWS: CFD Honors Paramedic Robert Truevillian, Who Died Of COVID, By Placing Badge On Memorial Wall
City officials have said they will work with applicants to make sure their expanded outdoor dining areas do not block the local traffic that will be allowed on the six streets included in the program.