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Indoor Dining Returning Saturday In Chicago, But With Safety Rules, As State Lowers Mitigations

Businesses must serve food to offer indoor service. But in Chicago, bars will be allowed to open if they allow patrons to order food delivery.

Twisted Hippo in Albany Park.
Alex Hernandez/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Indoor service at bars and restaurants will return to Chicago starting Saturday, but only at places that serve food, the state announced Friday.

Indoor service had been banned in Chicago for months, as Chicago was under Tier 2 and Tier 3 mitigations. But the state moved Region 11 — which covers Chicago — into its Tier 1 restrictions Saturday, allowing indoor service to resume, the Illinois Department of Health announced Friday.

“We have long pushed for the careful resumption of limited indoor dining, and I am thrilled that we have made enough progress in the fight against COVID-19 to reopen our businesses and bring workers back,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “As we enter this next phase, I again call on all businesses and residents to make sure we continue moving forward by following the guidelines for safe indoor dining and committing to the safety precautions that helped us flatten the curve a second time.”

Chicago was moved to Tier 1 because it hit the state’s requirements: having a positivity rate below 8 percent for three consecutive days, having hospital capacity at or above 20 percent for three consecutive days and not seeing a growing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Under Tier 1, there are still restrictions on indoor service: Capacity must not exceed the lesser of 25 percent or 25 people per room and no indoor table may sit more than four people.

Businesses must also serve food to offer indoor service, according to the state rules. That means businesses without food, like some bars, will have to keep their service outdoors or to-go for now.

But the city will allow bars without a food license to have indoor service as long as food is available through a partner or by allowing delivery.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who publicly urged Gov. JB Pritzker to allow indoor service to resume earlier this month — celebrated the news in a statement released Friday, saying indoor service will “provide much-needed relief at a critical time” for businesses.

“Our businesses have stepped up repeatedly to save lives throughout this crisis and I am thrilled that we will soon be ready to take this step to reopen more businesses and get employees back to work,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

Lightfoot’s push to get restaurants reopened earned her criticism from some, who said it was unsafe for indoor dining to return as the United States is facing more daily deaths than ever from COVID-19 and as a more contagious variant of the virus has been found in Chicago.

Experts have said indoor dining and drinking at bars and restaurants are among the riskiest activities for spreading coronavirus.

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Others have said indoor service is needed so locally-owned restaurants and bars can financially make it through the pandemic.

Restaurants have struggled significantly during the pandemic, with some closing completely or choosing to shut down during the winter in hopes of saving money.

The businesses were closed for all but takeout and delivery service in the spring, during the first wave of COVID-19. Indoor dining resumed in the summer, with restrictions.

But indoor service was banned again this fall as a second wave of coronavirus hit Chicago and the rest of the state.

The full Tier 1 mitigations:

Bars and Restaurants

  • Indoor service limited to lesser of 25 percent or 25 persons per room.
  • No tables exceeding four people indoors.
  • Suspend indoor service if not serving food.

Cultural Institutions

  • Open under Phase 4 rules.

Gaming and Casinos

  • Open under Phase 4 rules from Illinois Gaming Board.


  • Open under Phase 4 rules.

Household Gatherings

  • Allowed with public health guidelines.

Indoor Fitness Classes

  • Open under Phase 4 rules.

Meetings, Events and Gatherings (Excluding In-Person School or sports)

  • Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall capacity indoors and outdoors.


  • Open under Phase 4 rules.

Organized Group Recreational Activities (Fitness Centers, Sports, etc.)

  • Recreation, fitness centers and outdoor activities follow Phase 4 guidance.
  • Sports follow measures in the All Sport Guidelines.

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