By Dana Kozlov

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago restaurants will be open for indoor dining with limitations, along with the rest of the state of Illinois, during Stage 4 of the COVID-19 reopening plan, which is scheduled for June 26. However, this does not mean the city is moving entirely into Phase 4.

The Chicago limits include: 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people per room or floor. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than 10 diners at a single table. Bars and breweries will also be able to open indoors with similar restrictions. Also, seating at drinking establishments that do not sell food will be limited to a maximum of two hours per party. Alcohol sales at bars and restaurants for on-site consumption must still end at 11:00 p.m. each night, while the sale of alcohol for carryout or delivery must cease at 9:00 p.m. each night.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the topic at an unrelated news conference on Thursday, indicating her desire to get the restaurant industry back on its feet.

“I do think that we can open up indoor dining, and do it safely, and I think sooner rather than later. This is something that I have been advocating for for some time, but we’ve not been able to make progress with the state, which is unfortunate,” she said.

 

Friday was day three of al fresco dinigh at Mima’s Taste of Cuba in Irving Park. They got their license and just finished building their outdoor space.

It was post-pandemic outing day one for diner Xadarri Nevels.

“I was a little nervous, but everything has been fine so far,” she said. “We’re at enough distance where I can enjoy my food with company and still be happy.”

Husband and wife restaurant owners Billy and Jamie Alvarez just built and got a permit for their seating area because of COVID-19. Three days of business is already a big relief.

“For us as a small restaurant, an independent restaurant, it was imperative,” said Jamie.

Now they are about to plan their indoor reopening, but the new rules mean their six table dining room will look very different, so for them it’s a double edged sword.

“So for 25% dining, it kind of puts us at a disadvantage versus other larger restaurants,” she said. “So as much as we’re excited, we’re actually more eager for it to continue to progress with higher percentages that are allowed.”

The move to allow indoor dining comes as a surprise. Last week Chicago Department of Public Health Director Dr. Allison Arwady said the city was on pace to move to Phase 4 of the reopening plan by July 1, but suggested the city could do so sooner if virus trends allow. However, Arwady was discussing the entire Phase 4 plan, not just indoor dining at restaurants.

Illinois’ Stage 4 plan also allows for indoor dining. Phase 4 also would allow gyms and fitness clubs to reopen indoor facilities, cinemas and theaters to reopen, and public gatherings of up to 50 people. Schools, summer and fall programs, childcare, and higher education institutions also would be able to reopen with guidance from public health officials.

Arwady said indoor dining can move to 50% capacity when the city starts to see an average of no more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per day.

Chicago began to allow outdoor dining last weekend. The city closed a stretch of Broadway in Lakeview to allow more than 30 restaurants to expand patio seating into the street.