Citing a downward turn in the number of the city's COVID-19 cases, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has relaxed restrictions for gyms, bars, restaurants and other venues, The Chicago Tribune noted.
Starting Thursday, Oct. 1, the city will allow shaves, facials and other personal services that previously were banned because they required the removal of face masks, but said they need to take no longer than 15 minutes. Also, the maximum group size for health/fitness classes and after-school programming from 10 to 15 people.
In addition, bars that don't serve food will be limited to whichever is fewer between 25% of capacity or a maximum of 50 people, under the new rules. Restaurants can allow up to 40% capacity, up from 25 percent. Both can serve customers until 1 a.m.
However, the loosened rules come as the city prepares for flu season ( and with fears of a "twindemic" ) and the city has about 300 new COVID-19 cases per day well above the 200-case threshold the mayor set months ago as a goal before moderating restrictions.
Business owners do seem to be largely optimistic about the rule changes, and said they are committed to making things work.Troy Jorgeexecutive chef of the Chicago award-winning restaurant Temporistold Windy City Times, "We are very happy about the updated COVID restrictions at Temporis. We are extremely diligent in following the safety guidelines and proper sanitary precautions.
"It's giving hope to restaurants that do not have patio seating and giving the bigger restaurants a fighting chance to get through this difficult time."
The next few months will be critical for Chicago's hospitality industry as we work to survive a once-in-a-lifetime crisis," added Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association. "Increased capacity and longer hours will mean more jobs, greater opportunity for revenue and a path toward stability for our restaurants. We are committed to continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our workers and patrons as we take this essential next step in our economic recovery."