Patrons purchase beverages from Old Crow Smokehouse’s curbside bar on Clark Street in the Wrigleyville neighborhood on June 27, 2020 during the first weekend of Illinois in Phase Four of reopening amid the Coronavirus pandemic. | Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

The state’s new rules for Chicago include stopping indoor drinking and dining, limiting gathering sizes and putting a curfew on bars and restaurants.

By Kelly Bauer

CHICAGO — Bars and restaurants must stop indoor service starting Friday morning, and Chicago is facing other restrictions under new orders from Gov. JB Pritzker.

Chicago is joining six other regions of Illinois under what Pritzker has dubbed “enhanced mitigations.” The mitigations include stopping indoor drinking and dining and imposing an 11 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants.

Gatherings of people — including wedding, funerals and parties — must be limited to 25 people or 25 percent of a room’s capacity, whichever is less.

Chicago has seen its number of new cases and its positivity rate skyrocket in recent weeks, triggering the new rules. Should the outbreak here continue to worsen, even tighter restrictions could be imposed.

Chicago’s seven-day positivity rate has grown to 7.8 percent, and it’s seen seven days of hospital admissions increasing.

The situation in all of Cook County, including the city and suburbs, “is bad, and it’s getting worse,” Pritzker said at a Tuesday news conference.

“Yes, we know more about how to fight this virus than we did in the spring, but there is still no cure. There is still no vaccine.

As a result, the state has placed Chicago — Region 11 under the state’s reopening plan — under “Tier 1” restrictions. The restrictions go into effect Friday morning.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said earlier Tuesday the city’s officials would support Pritzker if he imposed the restrictions.

The Tier 1 restrictions:

Bars

  • No indoor service.
  • All outside bar service closes at 11 p.m.
  • All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside.
  • No ordering, seating or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed).
  • Tables should be 6 feet apart.
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting.
  • No dancing or standing indoors.
  • Reservations required for each party.
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table.

Restaurants 

  • No indoor dining or bar service.
  • All outdoor dining closes at 11 p.m.
  • Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart.
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting.
  • Reservations required for each party.
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table.

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings 

  • Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity.
  • No party buses.
  • Gaming and Casinos close at 11 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable.

These rules do not apply to schools or polling places.

Some of those rules — or even stricter versions of them — have already been put in place by the city. For example, the city has stopped all liquor sales past 9 p.m. and has a 10 p.m. curfew for bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses.

The restrictions are not meant to hurt businesses and are only implemented to save people’s lives and prevent more people from becoming sick, Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have said. The two have faced criticism from some who say their policies are hurting the economy and businesses, while others have said they want even stricter rules imposed to keep people safe.

Pritzker has said he knows the pandemic and the safety rules have been hard for businesses — but they won’t have customers at all if people don’t feel safe going out.

“This virus is what’s causing an economic hardship on people, not just in Illinois but all across the nation,” Pritzker said at a Monday coronavirus briefing. “There is not a state that is thriving during this COVID-19 crisis. None. And we have to deal with COVID-19 before we truly get back on track to growing this economy.

“… We just have to step up and make sure we’re maintaining our health while we’re also making our economy keep going.”

All bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses were shut down in March, with only carryout and delivery available. That’s also when limits on gathering sizes were imposed.

The measures helped slow the virus’s spread and saved thousands of lives, experts have said.

The state and city have gradually reopened since a mid-May peak in cases, with indoor dining allowed again in late June.

But now, the city and state are in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, officials have said. The state’s health director predicts 11,000 Illinoisans will be killed by COVID-19 by the end of 2020 if Illinois can’t get the outbreak under control.

“We’re seeing a national surge of coronavirus, and Illinois is not immune,” Pritzker said.

Officials have said the majority of new cases in Chicago are coming from people gathering in small groups with family and friends while not taking safety precautions. But bars and restaurants have also proven significant places of spread, they’ve said.

Officials are urging people in Chicago — and throughout Illinois — to wear masks, keep 6 feet from others, avoid gathering with people and wash their hands regularly to slow down the virus’s spread.

Lightfoot’s and the city’s health director have asked people to stop inviting anyone over, as well.