As COVID-19 cases rise, Chicago restaurants brace for new mitigation rules

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Seven weeks after the city’s bars and restaurants were fully reopened by Chicago officials, the hospitality industry is once again bracing for a new round of masking rules that could go into effect next week as case rates continue to increase.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday added Cook County to its list of regions with “substantial” transmission of the virus, underlining the recommendation of the Illinois Department of Public Health that residents of indoor public spaces resume wearing face coverings.

“We are still fighting this virus,” writes US Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois to Eater Chicago. “The best thing we can do is get vaccinated and beat this virus, so we can get back to normal. “

Duckworth urges Congress to update the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Rodolfo Cuadros (Amaru), who opens his new Wicker Park restaurant Bloom Plant Based Kitchen on Friday, said he wouldn’t mind demanding a mask. If officials tried to reinstate capacity restrictions, however, it would feel entirely different.

“We’re totally supposed to come back to wearing masks,” Cuadros said. “But we don’t know what else is planned.”

The CDC’s assessment, released the same day as Chicago surpassed the benchmark of 200 daily cases that Mayor Lori Lightfoot referenced earlier this week in a New York Times interview, came just hours after thousands of attendees from across the United States flooded Grant Park for the first day of Lollapalooza.

Some local sites don’t wait for the authorities to make rules. In the Ukrainian village, like unearthed by Reader music author Leor Galil, The concert hall and the Empty Bottle bar will always leave unvaccinated customers on site. Their latest post urges “unvaccinated guests to be masked whenever possible.” It is not a surprise. But there is one more update for those vaccinated, as management asks them to “wear masks when entering and moving around the site.”

Skylark, Pilsen’s dive bar, shared his policy on Friday morning, writing briefly that “only fully vaccinated people are now welcome at the Skylark”.

Additionally, gay nightclub Hydrate will begin requiring customers to present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination at the door along with their IDs on Friday, and Berlin will apply the same policy when it reopens on Thursday, August 5. in Boystown, according to Block the Chicago club. Bar owners in town like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New Orleans take the same approach.

Also note, Lightfoot should soon be doing compulsory vaccines for city employees. Thursday, during Lollapalooza, the the mayor took the stage to tell the crowd, “thank you for covering up and vaxing.”

This latest resurgence, attributed to the highly contagious delta variant, is also likely to exacerbate the economic stress that the restaurant industry is already facing. The $ 28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, as part of the US bailout revival bill that was enacted in March, short of cash on June 30.

In addition, RRF funds allocated by the Small Business Administration to help thousands of businesses owned by women, veterans and those considered “socially Where economically disadvantaged”Were revoked when some white business owners sued, claiming that prioritizing these specific communities amounted to discrimination. A Texas federal judge agreed, issuing an injunction preventing the SBA from distributing funds to nearly 3,000 businesses that had previously been prioritized.

Duckworth is among lawmakers calling on the SBA to address the precarious financial situation of these companies. She also wrote to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asking him to plead for more relief as the Senate drafts a budget resolution for a “larger, human infrastructure-focused bill.”

“I know that the relief intended for these restaurateurs has been hampered by an effort beyond your control”, Duckworth writes in an open letter to SBA administrator Isabel Guzman. “Nonetheless, I strongly support the SBS in using any authority possible to advance relief programs that Congress has already authorized.”


And in other news …

– Pop-up bar Replay Lincoln Park launches its latest pop culture event on Friday: Marvelous Arcade, a Marvel Comics themed festival with cosplay contests with cash prizes, 15 arcade and pinball games like Spider Man, and arcade games like Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter, and more. Special menus include cocktails like “Wauconda 4ever” (yes, the press release spelled it as Illinois city, not the fiction Black Panther African House, Wakanda) and “I like your 300; “I’m inevitable” and snacks such as “Stan Cur-Lee” fries. The pop-up, which operators stress is not sanctioned by Marvel, runs until Monday, September 6, and no tickets or game tokens are required.

This is another bold move, as the pop-up operators try not to be sued. An Olympics pop-up in Wicker Park takes place after the owners of Fatpour Tap Works research their options. Disney, which owns Marvel, is used to being contentious in Chicago. Just ask the owners of Duk’s Red Hots in West Town. The hot dog stand, founded in 1957, has now been reduced to one location. It was originally called “Donald Duk’s” before Disney’s legal muscle forced the name change. Maybe it’s a job for Daredevil’s alter ego lawyer Matt Murdock.

– The Duck Inn in Bridgeport will host two of its annual round-trip boat cruises featuring food and drinks inspired by the rivers of Portugal and Spain. The event begins at the Chicago River Walk with cava and canned goods, followed by cocktails, dinner and wine at the Duck Inn. Customers will then have dessert, vintage port and Spanish brandy on the way back to the Riverwalk. Tickets ($ 210) are available online for Thursday August 12 and Thursday 23 September.

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