CHICAGO (CBS) — With COVID-19 cases on the rise again – topping more than 2,000 cases for the first time Wednesday since early May – some Chicago area bar and restaurant owners say they are willing to do anything to avoid another shutdown.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, that includes asking for proof of vaccination.READ MORE: Katrina Pierce Charged With Using Names Of Homicide Victims To Collect Tax Refunds And Stimulus Checks, And She Has Gone To Prison Before For Similar Schemes
In the South Loop, the drinks are flowing and people are stepping inside the Sage Room, 67 E. Cermak Rd. As a crowd gathered there for a private event Wednesday night, owner Kenny Johnson wondered if full capacity at bars will remain.
“We all see the numbers climbing. We’re all watching it in every industry = but specifically in our industry – we are very cautious, because we know what happened to us last year,” Johnson said.
During the height of the pandemic, bars were hit the hardest. The Sage Room shut down for 12 months.
“To go back is going to be a problem, so we don’t want that to happen at all,” he said.
In Wrigleyville, Nisei Lounge, 3439 N. Sheffield Ave., remained closed for 15 months. And with the COVID Delta variant spiking, owners are prepared to take drastic steps.READ MORE: Man Shot, Critically Wounded In Grant Park Near Roosevelt Road
“We’re all scared of what could happen in the fall – because everybody’s talking about the different variants, everybody’s talking about potential shutdowns – you’re seeing other cities and other states take precautions already,” Johnson said.
In San Francisco, the Bar Owner Alliance is voting to let only vaccinated patrons enter. It is a move Chicago bars are willing to make too.
“If we get to that point, I would be in favor of making it so only vaccinated people could come in,” Johnson said.
Back in Wrigleyville, Nisei said it too would be on board – pointing out that before the full reopening, it required proof of vaccination and will do so again.
Johnson can’t think of an alternative.
“We can’t afford another shutdown,” he said.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup
Right now, there is no unified push from the Illinois Restaurant Association to require proof of vaccination. Only individual bars are leaning toward the requirement.