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Festivals Are Back, United Center Can Reopen And More As Chicago Loosens Coronavirus Restrictions

Chicago is loosening its Phase 4 regulations effectively immediately, allowing events like festivals, fans at the United Center and conventions.

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CHICAGO — Festivals can return, the United Center can open to fans and conventions are back under the city’s newest reopening measures.

Chicago is loosening its Phase 4 regulations effectively immediately, as coronavirus cases and the city’s positivity rate have fallen and about 30 percent of all residents are fully vaccinated. That means the city will loosen capacity limits and allow some events, like festivals and fans at the United Center, with restrictions.

People will still need to keep 6 feet apart and wear face coverings, among other protective measures. Officials are also encouraging people to get fully vaccinated to stop the pandemic and fully resume normal life.

Here are the big changes:

  • Restaurants and bars can increase capacity to the lesser of 50 percent or 100 people.
  • Larger indoor venues for seated spectator events — including the United Center, theaters and concert venues — can now operate at 25 percent capacity. Smaller indoor venues for such events can operate at the lesser of 50 percent capacity or 50 people.
  • Large indoor venues can now operate at the lesser of 25 percent of 250 people. Meetings, conferences and conventions are allowed within those rules.
  • Festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events can operate with 15 people per 1,000 square feet.
  • Flea and farmers markets can operate at 25 percent capacity or 15 people per 1,000 square feet.
  • Places of worship with large, indoor venues can operate at 25 percent capacity.
  • Social events can be held with the lesser of 50 percent capacity or 50 people indoors. If outdoors, they can be held with the lesser of 50 percent capacity or 100 people. Fully vaccinated people will not count toward the capacity limit.

At the same time, the city announced people who are fully vaccinated — meaning it’s been 14 days since they received their final vaccine dose — will not count toward capacity limits at private events like weddings.

Under that rule, the events must be held at licensed businesses, they cannot be open to the public and guests must RSVP before the event. Business owners will have to verify guests exempted guests are fully vaccinated, and the city will require them to keep records on that.

That rule only applies to private events for now, though the city will consider expanding it to other industries in the weeks to come.

Other regulations will ease up once Chicago moves into the Bridge Phase, which will happen if the city sees stable or declining metrics for the next two weeks.

Under the Bridge Phase, the city will expand operating hours for bars and restaurants, among other changes.

RELATED: Here’s How You Can Get Vaccinated Against Coronavirus In Chicago

The Bridge Phase, which is defined by the state, allows even greater capacity at various industries. It’s the final step before Illinois moves into Phase 5, which is a relative return to normalcy where there are no more capacity limits.

Illinois is expected to move into Phase 5 as more people are vaccinated and the state sees a drop in COVID-19 cases, among other metrics.

Everyone 16 and older is now eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago and across the state.

Here’s what else is happening as Chicago reopens:

Street Festivals

Street festivals will be allowed with limited capacity. The first to return will be Windy City Smokeout, an annual barbecue event that is expected to host up to 12,500 people per day come July.

The outdoor fest will be held in the parking lot of the United Center and will have a musical lineup.

All vendors, performers and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated. Attendees will have to prove they’re vaccinated. Non-vaccinated attendees will be allowed, but they’ll have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of trying to enter the event.

RELATED: Windy City Smokeout Returning As Chicago Allows Summer Festivals

Open Street Downtown

To bring people back to The Loop in a safe way, the city and Chicago Loop Alliance will partner to block traffic on State Street from Madison to Lake for up to 12 Sundays beginning July 11.

People will be able to walk freely in the street, explore the shops, restaurants and bars and take in the arts and culture.

The closures will be in place 7 a.m.-11 p.m. those Saturdays.

More information is available online.

Night Out In The Parks And Movies In The Park

Night Out in the Parks will return this summer with 350 outdoor cultural arts events, according to the city.

Movie screenings will kick off July 6 at Oakdale Park, with screenings planned for 100 parks during the summer.

More information about Night Out in the Parks is available online.


The city said “many more lakeside activities will resume” with safety restrictions, though officials did not immediately offer more details.

Soldier Field

Soldier Field concessions will reopen, and drive-in events are planned, as are the many walk/run fundraisers hosted in lots at the stadium.

Open Streets

The city will provide grants to businesses in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods so they can set up expanded outdoor dining and safe spots for customers. The grants will be provided under a $2 million program.

The city is also getting $4 million to support its Plaza Streets and Shared Streets programs. Plaza Streets will see “excess pavement” turned into community space for outdoor seating and programs by community groups, according to the city.

The Shared Streets program will return, with some streets closed off so people can safely walk and ride their bikes there. The program will start this spring on Leland Avenue in Lincoln Square and will expand to other streets where the community wants them.

Buckingham Fountain Contest

Buckingham Fountain will be turned on during the annual Switch on Summer event.

This year, a contest will be held to determine who gets to flip the switch and turn on the fountain.

The contest hasn’t started yet, but more details about it are available online.

Maggie Daley Park Golf Course

Maggie Daley Park’s 18-hole mini-golf course and skating ribbon will open Friday.

The skating ribbon can be used for people on roller skates, rollerblades and scooters, with weekend rentals available. Daily rentals will start May 28.

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