CHICAGO (CBS) — Wrigleyville bar owners face a tall task – balancing a much-needed business boost with COVID concerns.
As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported Saturday, much of Wrigleyville is in a zip code that has seen a sharp spike in recent COVID cases.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Rain Tapers Saturday Night, But More Scattered Showers Sunday
Spring is in the air in Wrigleyville, and the Cubs are playing again with some fans in the stands.
“Business is booming, I’d say,” said Cubs fan Bryce Wordell. “I’ve lived here for a year now, and it’s been sad not seeing busy like this – so it’s great to be back.”
Unfortunately, there is something else in the air that we’d rather be without.
“You have to still be cautious, and I think the caution level is still, everybody’s got that in the back of their head – but they still want to enjoy the day,” said Cubs fan Megan Jubera.
Russell Bishop owns Merkle’s Bar & Grill, 3516 N. Clark St.
“Keep people distanced, wear your mask,” Bishop said, “and let’s get through this.”
Bishop said business isn’t quite what it was pre-pandemic, but they hit their restricted capacity of 50 people after the Opening Day game on Thursday. They saw a similar crowd after the game on Saturday.READ MORE: At Least 16 People Shot, 1 Killed In Gun Violence In Chicago This Weekend
“We’re just praying that we get more and more people in the stadium, that everybody does their job, gets vaccinated, roll this out as quick as possible, and get back to work,” Bishop said.
Much of Wrigleyville is in 60657, a ZIP code that’s catching the attention of city’s top health doctor.
“In the last week, for example, where we saw the most newly diagnosed cases of COVID were right here in 60614 and 60657,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady as she showed a map this week. “People are gathering with friends, with family. Sometimes that’s in bars and restaurants, sometimes that’s in other settings.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently loosened outdoor dining restrictions, and on Saturday, many restaurants took advantage of the new rules.
The city has also warned they’re keeping an eye out for any bars breaking the rules.
“A lot of regulars that we want to get in, but 50 people is 50 people,” Russell said. ‘It’s kind of tough dealing with it.”
“I think a mix of having the vaccine, and the good weather, and just being able to be outside – it really does the trick,” said Cubs fan Megan Foreman.MORE NEWS: At Bond Hearing For Man Authorities Say Was With Him, Prosecutors Say 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo Had Gun In Hand When He Was Fatally Shot By Police
Dr. Arwady said COVID-19 variants could be contributing to the city’s rise in cases.