CHICAGO (CBS) — Steady or declining is where Chicago’s mayor wants COVID-19 numbers to stay, but some top health experts are voicing concerns about the city this holiday weekend.
There was a recent sweep of the restaurants in the Belmont Central neighborhood to enforce COVID-19 guidelines.
So many are used to packing restaurants or beaches and spending time together for these occasions, but the hope is this holiday will be different.
“It definitely is challenging. We’ve had to stay on our toes,” said Mariscos la Costa general manager Alejandro Reyes.
Staying six feet apart while staying on top of their seafood service has proven challenging for Marisco De Costa.
“We’ve had large numbers coming out to visit us,” Reyes said.
Reyes said they are ready for this weekend’s holiday rush.
“We had a little bit of a practice run in the past few weeks to prepare for events like this Monday,” he said.
Over the past weeks the city has kept a handful of bars and restaurants in line when it comes to COVID-19 enforcement. Across the street, Grota Restaurant was cited for failure to ensure social distancing. Family Den off of Stony Island Avenue and 90th Street was cited as well. At Halsted and 120th, B’Z Sports Bar and Grill was also grilled by the city for failure to require face coverings, though neighbor Steven Moore said the business is getting a bad rap.
“I actually seen people practicing social distancing there,” he said. “It wasn’t congested.”
The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, is concerned about congestion and groups gather this weekend, including in Illinois. He warns the state is one of a handful at risk of surging COVID-19 numbers.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot hopes people don’t ignore the city’s guidelines this holiday. In a past tweet, she has threatened to close down the parks and lakefront if they did.
In an effort to prevent crowding incidents Reyes said his restaurant was inspected last weekend.
“We were visited by a task force created by the city,” he said.
Police measured tables to ensure each was six feet apart, counted customers inside and made sure staff members were wearing masks. Guidance was given but not a citation.
“I think everything overall went well,” Reyes said.
The restaurant that was cited in the neighborhood said it’s the first time they have been cited in their 35 years. It’s not clear what the ticket will cost them. That restaurant was hosting a wedding. They say at close police saw a gathering of more than 50 people not spaced apart, mostly because they were celebrating and out of their seats. The owner said they will keep any events at 50 or fewer going forward because that is 25% capacity.