Outdoor Dining Expected A Little Later In Chicago

WBBM Newsradio Staff
May 21, 2020 - 3:00 pm
outdoor dining

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday doused hopes that bars and restaurants in her city can begin socially distanced, outdoor dining operations on May 29, the date that Gov. JB Pritzker says that option will be permissible. 

Instead, Lightfoot envisions Chicago not being ready until sometime in June so that the al fresco option is safe for restaurants of all sizes. She said it’s possible the city eventually may close down some streets to accommodate patio-style dining.

Pritzker on Wednesday said restaurants would be able to offer outdoor seating on May 29, when he anticipates all regions of the state moving into “Phase 3” of his five-phase reopening plan to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Previously, dine-in service would not have occurred until a later phase, but the governor says medical experts believe diners would be safe outdoors if tables are spaced properly apart and staff members take precautions, such as wearing masks. The governor said local officials are the ones to decide whether to allow the arrangement or impose stricter guidelines.

“That’s a completely local decision,” Pritzker said later Thursday, when told about Lightfoot’s remarks.

The restaurant industry has been hit hard under the Illinois stay-at-home order, which has prohibited dining in. Eateries have been allowed to sell meals to go or for delivery, but in most cases that is a fraction of their sales from before the pandemic.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,268 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, for a statewide total of 102,686 to date. The new cases include 87 deaths; since the pandemic began, a total of 4,607 people have died across Illinois.