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Mayor Lori Lightfoot Easing COVID Restrictions On Bars, Restaurants, Fitness Centers, Personal Services

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago restaurants will soon be able to serve more people indoors, and bars that don’t serve food will soon be able to resume service inside under loosened COVID-19 restrictions announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday.

The city also is easing restrictions for health and fitness clubs and for personal services.

“Being able to open further today is just one small step that we’re taking based on what we’re seeing in the data,” Lightfoot said. “It also means that difficult decisions and sacrifices that we’ve all had to make are moving us slowly but surely forward.”

The mayor said the move comes after the city has seen improving COVID-19 data over the past month, including lower rates of infection and fewer emergency room visits.

“It was because of the citywide cooperation and collaboration that Chicago never saw a huge surge in cases once we started to gently reopen,” Lightfoot said. “All the modeling predicted that we would see a surge. The question was only how large, and luckily because of all the hard work and sacrifice of so many, including individual residents, that fate didn’t come to us.”

The new rules will go into effect on Thursday when indoor capacity at restaurants will be increased from 25% to 40%, with a maximum of 50 people per room and six people per table.

Bars that serve alcohol but not food will be limited to 25% capacity indoors or a maximum of 50 people, whichever is lower. Customers can stay no longer than two hours and cannot order at the bar, only at tables. Bars that don’t serve food themselves also must partner with a restaurant or other establishment to make food available to customers at all times through delivery services.

Restaurants and bars that serve alcohol also will be able to stay open until 1:30 a.m. but must stop serving booze at 1 a.m. Liquor stores must still halt alcohol sales at 9 p.m.

Customers at bars and restaurants must continue to wear masks while seated, unless eating or drinking. That means they must wear masks whenever interacting when servers or staff, including when placing orders, when their food or drinks are delivered, and when they’re paying their checks.

“I know that t his requirement is a pain in the butt. Let’s just be blunt about it, but it’s absolutely necessary to protect you and protect other diners, and most importantly protect the workers who are coming to your table,” Lightfoot said.

In addition to loosening restrictions for bars and restaurants, capacity for health and fitness centers, personal services, and non-essential retail businesses also will increase from 25% to 40%. Maximum group sizes