June 15, 2020

City of Chicago Announces Dates for Bars and Lakefront to Reopen

Bars and breweries to open outside only service on Wednesday, June 17; Lakefront to open for “moving” only on Monday, June 22

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, alongside several City departments including the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), and the Chicago Park District, today announced the reopening dates for bars and breweries – June 17 – and the Lakefront Trail – June 22.

“We are thrilled to be taking these long-awaited steps forward in reopening our city by safely bringing our bars back online with outside service, and, of course, taking our first, cautious move toward reopening our beloved lakefront,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Though we still have a long way to go before life fully returns to normal, we are able to make  these important steps thanks to the commitment and collaboration with our local businesses who have been true partners throughout this unprecedented crisis, as well as our fellow Chicagoans who have done their part to keep their communities protected by being responsible and preventing the spread of this disease.”

Beginning Wednesday, June 17, bars, lounges, taverns, breweries and other drinking establishments that sell alcohol for on-site consumption without a Retail Food License will be able to open for outdoor service only. Under the industry guidelines, drinking establishments may reopen under similar health and safety restrictions that restaurants have been following since June 3, including the same requirements for outdoor service only. Patrons must be seated at tables that are six feet apart, with six people or fewer per table. Furthermore, seating at drinking establishments will be limited to a maximum of two hours. Finally, alcohol sales at bars and restaurants for on-site consumption must end at 11:00 p.m. each night, however the sale of alcohol for carryout or delivery must cease at 9:00 p.m. each night.

The decision to further re-open was based on the continued positive trend in the data metrics monitored by CDPH over the past several weeks. June 17 was chosen as it is two weeks from the beginning of phase three and the incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to extend to 14 days

“As we continue to cautiously reopen our businesses, it is critical that we keep the health and safety of our residents as our top priority,” said Rosa Escareno, BACP Commissioner. “We are excited to begin reopening Chicago’s bars, taverns and breweries and we look forward to continuing our efforts to support and educate all of Chicago’s businesses.”

Drinking establishments are encouraged to partner with restaurants, food trucks or other establishments to provide food to patrons. Bars may reopen outdoor areas, including outdoor patios, rooftops, rooms with retractable roofs and indoor spaces where 50% or more of a wall can be removed via the opening of windows, doors, or panels provided that dining tables are within eight feet from such openings. Additionally, establishments with a Tavern License are eligible for an Expanded Outdoor Dining Permit through which they can expand into private property, including parking lots. Finally, bars and breweries may also participate in the City’s “Our Streets” plan to close streets for outdoor food and beverage service. Applications for street closure must be submitted by chambers, Special Service Area agencies, business service organizations or three or more restaurants.

“Craft brewers across the city are grateful to Mayor Lightfoot and her team for their efforts to include brewery taprooms in phase three for outdoor dining. We look forward to safely reopening with continued adherence to all the guidelines provided by our public health officials,’ said Kevin Cary, Owner of Begyle Brewing and President of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild.

Beginning Monday, June 22, the Lakefront Trail will open East of Lake Shore Drive from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily, however beaches and parks East of Lake Shore Drive will remain closed. The 18-mile Lakefront Trail will be open for exercise and transit only, and no other recreational activities will be allowed. Chicagoans must abide by a “keep it moving” strategy where only walking, running, biking, and rollerblading will be allowed. At this time, the Chicago Park District will not allow congregating, gathering or use of park amenities, which includes but is not limited to, stationary activities, fitness classes, barbeques, beaches, and picnicking. To monitor and control volume, only approximately half of the more than 50 access points (street, underpass, bridges) to the Lakefront will be open. To effectively monitor and control use, the District will minimize access to the trail by restricting select entrance points including select bridges, underpasses and streets along the trail by fifty percent. Park Security will work in tandem with the Chicago Police Department and Office of Emergency Management and Communication to keep the trail safe under guidance from public health officials.

“The trail is one of our city’s most treasured lakefront amenities,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly. “We are excited to share plans to reopen the trail, encourage active living and provide guidance on how people can begin resuming activities safely.”

The plan, which allows trail use for commuting and exercise including walking, running and cycling, requires users to stay in constant motion. Compliance is critical in order to mitigate congregating and achieve social distancing along the popular trail. To encourage proper use, the Chicago Park District will install visible signage along the trail to educate and remind trail users of rules. In addition, Social Distancing Ambassadors will be stationed along the trail to educate the public and manage the flow of traffic. Ambassadors will actively engage park patrons providing guidance on appropriate social distancing, the importance of face coverings as well as other health and safety guidelines. 

While the trail will open, all other lakefront amenities including outdoor fitness equipment athletic fields and beaches will remain closed while public health officials advise the District on options to open safely. Chicago’s swimming pools and playgrounds will remain closed while public health officials advise the Chicago Park District on options to open them safely. There will also be no use of outdoor fitness equipment, basketball courts, tennis courts or athletic fields, and parking lots will remain closed for the time being.

Due to the significant lakefront storm damage and high lake levels, three sections of the lakefront trail will merge to accommodate users. From Fullerton to North Avenue will be a shared trail. North Avenue to Ohio Street, trail users will be redirected to an on-street detour. From 43rd Street to 51st Street, users will merge onto one trail.  Additional signage and SDA resources will be implemented along both stretches to ensure social distancing. The Park District will notify users as construction projects are completed in those sections and normal trail use is restored.

Chicago moved into phase three of its “Protecting Chicago” reopening framework on June 3, but the City is emphasizing that cautiously reopening still requires strict physical distancing even though it allows for some industries to reopen. All residents must continue to abide by important guidance in phase three, including: physically distancing and wearing a face covering; limiting non-business, social gatherings to 10 or fewer persons; staying at home if you feel ill or have come into contact with someone with COVID-19; and getting tested if you have symptoms.

“We’re all excited to start the process of reopening our city but we need to do this cautiously and continue to follow all the guidance,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “Other cities and states that re-opened earlier are seeing rising case rates. We’ve made so much progress, we’d all hate to see that happen here in Chicago.

For more information about the City’s “Protecting Chicago” reopening framework, and to find industry-specific guidelines, please visit chicago.gov/reopening.