While Chicago hasn’t put in place a mask mandate, more restaurants and bars in the city are announcing changes to house rules, with many saying they will only serve customers who provide proof of vaccination. Over the weekend, the city issued new guidelines recommending face covering for anyone passing through indoor public spaces.
Restaurants prepared for stricter rules as capacity constraints and table spacing affect the bottom line. With the industry still in a financial stupor since last year, many feared Chicago would bring back the old rules put in place during the height of the pandemic.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, appeared at a rare Sunday morning press conference to explain the new mask policy, which is in line with the rules proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week. The city has “no goal or current plans to close Chicago again,” said Arwady.
The city’s mantra is “We can be open and we can be careful”.
These comments can make it easier for diners to eat in restaurants with proper precautions. Likewise, this could create calm for restaurant owners who are concerned about more drastic rules on the horizon. Chicago’s dining scene saw a renaissance this summer when restrictions were lifted in June. Arwady described this as Chicago “enjoying well-controlled COVID for the past few months.”
Nonetheless, Michael Roper, owner of Hopleaf Bar in Andersonville, posted an update on Facebook on Saturday in which he wrote that “Another round of capacity restrictions and closings is the death knell for us and many of you and our favorite restaurants, drinks and restaurants entertainment venues ”.
“Since the CDC vaccination cards can easily be copied and forged anyway, we will not make them an entry requirement for the time being,” the article says. “However, if you are not vaccinated, please stay away. If you show symptoms, stay home. “
Vaccine cards were apparently for sale over the weekend to get unvaccinated Lollapalooza fans through the gates in Grant Park. As with the Windy City Smokeout, which took place outside the United Center in early July, festival staff didn’t check the names on the cards. During the press conference on Sunday, Lightfoot praised the music festival staff for working with the city’s health experts. Although she didn’t cite the source of her numbers, Lightfoot said 90 percent of the participants were vaccinated.
Right now, Cole’s Bar in Logan Square is canceling its comedy nights after a vaccinated customer informs them of his infection. Operators said the bar is “reintroducing social distancing protocols” despite staff testing negative.
On Sunday, the 2Bears Tavern Group (Meeting House Tavern, The Sofo Tap) sent out an email stating that their bars will require proof as of Tuesday – either a vaccination card, a copy or a photo of you, or a record of you a medical provider app. The newsletter also threatened that customers who attempt to pass on forged documents would be banned from all venues.
“Our entire team is vaccinated. You should be too, ”concludes the email.
It is also important to instill consumer confidence. At Fulton Market, employees from Ever, the gourmet restaurant owned by James Beard winner Curtis Duffy, posed for an Instagram post entitled “100% Vaxed 100% Masked”.
the tribune spoke to more restaurant and bar owners in need of masks. The Four Moon Tavern in Roscoe Village has a mask requirement and vaccines for those who sit at the bar. Mfk, the Spanish seafood restaurant in Lakeview, is closing indefinitely after a breakthrough case involving an employee is revealed.
“We are devastated by this news as we have made every effort since the beginning of the pandemic to be as safe as possible,” said Mfk’s Instagram account. “We are only reopening for six weeks after being closed for 16 months, so this decision was not made lightly.”
Co-owner Scott Worsham tells Eater Chicago he’s hoping the restaurant could open on August 12th.
A landmark case is when a vaccinated person tests positive for COVID-19. On Sunday, Arwady conceded breakthroughs but countered that 99.99 percent of Chicagoans vaccinated were not hospitalized and that 97 percent of hospital admissions for COVID-19 are from people who were not fully vaccinated.
Arwady added that the current surge in cases is similar to the “mini surge” in Chicago in April, with eight or nine new hospital admissions a day.
Chicago will wait and see how Lollapalooza affects the city’s COVID-19 numbers. It can take a week for city officials to share data.
Many restaurants are waiting for the federal government to fully approve COVID-19 vaccines administered under emergency clearances. Full approval would give companies more legal opportunities to request mandates.