CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) announced today a re-tightening of COVID-19 restrictions for bars, restaurants, gyms and personal services as a precautionary move in response to a recent increase in community cases of the virus. Throughout the pandemic, data has guided every move made by the City, and the recent uptick in cases as well as surging COVID-19 activity in other states around the country is cause for concern and motivated this move to dial back reopening in certain high-risk environments.
The reinstatement of certain restrictions will go into effect Friday, July 24 at 12:01 a.m., in order to allow businesses time to prepare. Restrictions will include:
- Bars, taverns, breweries and other establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption without a Retail Food license will no longer be able to serve customers indoors.
- Restaurants that serve alcohol will be allowed to continue to operate as long as they abide by ongoing COVID-19 guidance and existing regulations.
- Establishments without food may still provide outdoor service as they did under phase three.
- Maximum party size and table occupancy at restaurants, bars, taverns and breweries will be reduced to six people.
- Indoor fitness class size will be reduced to a maximum of 10 people.
- Personal services requiring the removal of face coverings will no longer be permitted (shaves, facials, etc.).
- Residential property managers will be asked to limit guest entry to five per unit to avoid indoor gatherings and parties.
“We have made so much progress here in Chicago in containing the spread of the virus, protecting our health system and saving lives, and in general, the virus remains under control locally. But we are again seeing a steady increase in new cases,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “While we aren’t near the peak of the pandemic from earlier this year, none of us wants to go back there, and we feel these restrictions will help limit further community spread.”
As CDPH recently announced, the city is back in a high-incidence state under Centers for Disease Control guidelines after topping 200 cases per day on a 7-day rolling average. As of Sunday, July 19, that number was 233. That increase has been driven in part by rising cases among young people 18-29 years old as the city has seen more social activity and interactions in bars, restaurants, parks and the lakefront. Chicago has also seen an increase in its percent positivity rate – the percentage of people tested who are positive for COVID-19 – after weeks of decline.
“No one relishes making this move but it’s the right thing to do as we work to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 similar to what we’re seeing in many states around the country,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “This virus has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx individuals, many of whom are essential workers who have continued to go to work, and we can’t afford to see a resurgence that would mean more cases and more deaths.”
To prepare all business owners for the new guidance, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will be hosting a series of webinars this week. On July 21, BACP will hold a webinar for all business types to provide an overview of the new changes at 2:00 p.m., followed by a session just for restaurants and bars at 4:00 p.m. Sessions for health and fitness centers and personal services will be held later in the week. To register and learn more, visit chicago.gov/businessworkshops.
“Over the past few months, businesses and residents from every corner of this city have stepped up to follow our public health guidelines and restrictions so that Chicago could safely and responsibly reopen,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareño. “We will continue to keep data and science as the north stars of our work, which is why these new restrictions are designed to preserve the positive progress we’ve made so far and ensure Chicago can stay one of the most open large cities in the nation.”
These new restrictions build on ongoing guidance and enforcement measures by the City to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and re-open cautiously. The City will continue to assess the data daily and make other adjustments as needed. For example, team sports workouts and practices are still allowed but must be done appropriately as spread has occurred in these settings.
“I can’t emphasize enough that we all need to continue to abide by the public health guidance: practice social distancing and limit gatherings, wear masks at all times in public settings as required by law, and continue to wash your hands frequently,” said Dr. Arwady.
While people are encouraged to create a bubble of not more than 10 people that they have close contact with, they need to do so smartly and avoid “bubble trouble.” If a member of your bubble is not following guidance, they are putting you and others at risk.
This recent uptick in cases locally comes as other parts of the country are seeing a surge in new cases and the country overall is setting new highs for daily COVID-19 cases. Because of this, officials in Chicago decided to act quickly. Earlier this month, Dr. Arwady issued an emergency travel health order requiring travelers from states where cases are surging to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the city, including Chicago residents returning from these states. The updated list of states and information about exemptions to the order can be found here.
Throughout the pandemic, individuals who are infected with COVID-19 or have come into contact with someone who is, have been advised to quarantine. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease before a person knows they are sick, including if a traveler has been infected with the virus but does not have symptoms.