Chicago Bars and Restaurants to Stay Open Later, Increase Capacity

Carly Behm | The PhoenixChicago bars will be able to stay open until 1:30 a.m. starting Oct. 1 as the city eases some COVID-19 restrictions.

Late nights at bars will soon be possible again for of-age Loyola students. The city is easing some restrictions on bars and restaurants starting Oct. 1, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a press conference Sept. 28.

Bars and restaurants will be able to sell alcohol until 1:00 a.m. and stay open until 1:30 a.m., per the new guidelines. However, liquor and grocery stores will still have to stop selling booze at 9 p.m., according to the city’s website.

Breweries, taverns and bars will be able to operate at 25 percent indoor capacity, or 50 people — whichever is fewer, Lightfoot said.

The new rules also include an increase from 25 percent capacity to 40 percent indoor capacity for restaurants, gyms and retail. 

The mayor said customers must wear a face covering except for when actively eating or drinking, and especially when interacting with staff.

“I know that this requirement is a pain in the butt, let’s just be blunt about it,” Lightfoot said. “But it’s absolutely necessary to protect you, protect other diners and importantly, protect the workers who are coming to your table.”

Lightfoot said bar and restaurant goers must also remain seated at all times — meaning customers can’t walk up to the bar to order. 

The eased restrictions come as Chicago remains under a 5 percent positivity rate for COVID-19 tests, and averages about 299 new cases each day, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard

Joan Holden, director of Loyola’s wellness center, recommended students continue to follow public health guidelines in terms of wearing a face covering and avoiding large crowds as they make their way back to the bars.

“I know that people are going to be happy to go out again,” Holden said. “They should be going out in small numbers, one of the things that has been important from the very beginning is to minimize your risk of exposure to large crowds.”

Holden emphasized that the precautions in place for students and Chicago residents are to “mitigate,” risk — they won’t be able to totally eliminate the chances of contracting the virus as they embark on a night out. 

Loyola has tested 1,467 people and confirmed 14 positive COVID-19 cases at the university as of Sept. 29, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard

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