CHICAGO — The city has unveiled a “roadmap” for how it will reopen businesses and expand capacity for restaurants and bars while trying to prevent another wave of coronavirus.
The city and state have gradually eased up on restrictions while coming down from a fall surge in COVID-19. New cases, deaths and the city’s positivity rate remain down, but they’re still higher than they were over the summer. The roadmap unveiled Wednesday will be used to guide the city’s decisions as it gains better control over its outbreak and tries to reopen businesses more.
The roadmap relies on four metrics: average new confirmed cases per day, test positivity and COVID-19 patients in emergency department beds and intensive care unit beds.
One change coming this week under the plan: Indoor service capacity will be allowed at the lesser of 50 people or 25 percent capacity of a room or floor starting Thursday for restaurants, bars and events.
The next big change for restaurants will be the expansion of indoor capacity to 40 percent, but that won’t happen until the city is rated as “moderate-risk” level in the four metrics for three days. It’s currently at “high-risk” level in one area.
Other updates to business regulations will also be considered once the city is at “moderate-risk” level or lower for three days.
Restaurants and bars can see their indoor service capacity expand to 50 percent if the areas are at “moderate-risk” level or lower for at least two weeks.
The roadmap uses these metrics to guide changes:
• COVID cases diagnosed per day: This number must be below 400 new cases per day to reach the “moderate-risk” level. The city is currently averaging 466 new cases per day.
• COVID test positivity: The city is already in the “low-risk” level as it has a positivity rate of 4.7 percent as of Wednesday.
• Emergency department visits for COVID-like illness: The city is currently in the “moderate-risk” level as it has an average of 69 per day.
• ICU beds occupied by people with COVID: The city is currently in the “moderate-risk” level as it has an average of 148 per day.
Cook County will follow the same reopening plan, according to the city’s news release.
You can read more about Chicago’s reopening plan online.
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