Chicago to increase capacity for bars and restaurants starting Thursday

Wed. February 10, 2021 1:22 PM by Kevin Wayne

photo credit // jay wennington on unsplash

Chicago continues to ease restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19

Chicago is expanding indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday. 

Effective Thursday, indoor service at bars, restaurants and events can expand to the lesser of 25% capacity or 50 people per room or floor. 

Additional restrictions can be lifted - including the increase of indoor capacity up to 40% - once the city reaches a "moderate risk" level. 

“We are definitely trending in the right direction today, and I thank the residents and businesses that continue to do what is necessary to save lives,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “The tragedy of this pandemic unfortunately continues but there's hope at the end of this long journey. This path to 50% capacity ensures that we move forward with hope and confidence but also with the necessary precautions in place to ensure that the rush to reopen doesn't endanger our progress.”  

Hospitalizations and deaths have all "dropped considerably" since the second surge of the pandemic in the fall, according to health officials. 

City bars and restaurants have been limited to outdoor service and takeout since October 30, prompting some restaurants to go into hibernation and many to close. 

About 17% of America's restaurants permanently closed in 2020, according to a report by The National Restaurant Association. 

Related: Reopened LGBTQ bars in Chicago