Staffers at 1540 Bar & Grill in Bucktown watch as Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces new coronavirus guidelines that will allow bars without food licenses to reopen for indoor service starting Oct. 1. [HANNAH ALANI/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO]

City leaders said the city is making enough progress to contain the spread of coronavirus to allow for looser restrictions on dining out and in-person activities beginning Thursday.

By Mina Bloom & Joe Ward | Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is easing coronavirus restrictions on bars, restaurants, salons and fitness centers, saying the city has made sufficient progress in fighting the pandemic.

Bars can reopen for indoor service starting Thursday, the mayor announced Monday. Restaurants can allow up to 40 percent capacity, up from 25 percent. Both can serve customers until 1 a.m.

City leaders said Monday the city is making enough progress to contain the spread of coronavirus to allow for looser restrictions on dining out and in-person activities. But the pandemic is still ongoing and Chicagoans still must stick to the same safety precautions to keep themselves and neighbors safe from the disease, leaders say.

“Today’s new guidelines are the result of the hard work and hard choices you, our residents, our workers and our businesses have made to keep our entire city safe,” Lightfoot said at a press conference Monday.

“They mean that we as a city are making slow and steady progress in our recovery efforts. But what these new guidelines do not mean is that we are out of the throes of this disease. Not so. Unfortunately we’re seeing states nearby and across the country open up entirely as if COVID-19 has suddenly disappeared. It has not. We continue to see new cases every single day. We continue to see new hospitalizations every single day.”

Starting Thursday at 5 a.m., the new restrictions will be as follows:

• Restaurants, health and fitness centers, personal services, non-essential retail can operate at 40 percent indoor capacity, up from 25 percent. These establishments, restaurants and venues still are limited to 50 total customers within one room or space. The limit of no more than six people at a table also remains in place.

• Breweries, taverns, bars and other establishments that serve alcohol without a food license may reopen with indoor seating, at 25 percent capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer. Service must be capped at two hours per party. Patrons must be seated when eating, drinking or order. Patrons also cannot walk up to the bar to order.

• Bars, restaurants and other establishments that serve alcohol will now be able to sell alcohol for on-site or off- site consumption until 1:00 am and may remain open until 1:30 am. However, liquor stores, grocery stores and other establishments that sell alcohol to-go through a Packaged Goods license must continue to stop selling alcohol at 9:00 p.m.

• Health and fitness classes and after-school programming may now allow 15 people in groups, up from 10.

• Facials, shaves and other personal services that require the removal of face coverings will be allowed.

More information about the reopening can be found here.