With Chicago and suburban Cook County “on track” to enter Tier 1 coronavirus restrictions on Saturday and resume indoor dining, many restaurants are ready to welcome customers back.
Under Tier 1 guidelines, indoor service will be limited to less than 25% or 25 people per room. In addition, no table of more than four people will be allowed inside.
Darnell Reed, the chef and owner of Luella’s Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square, was busy Friday night, preparing to reopen his dining room for the first time in months.
“It will help us bring people back, for sure,” he said. “Not everyone was getting the number of hours they used to get before COVID.”
Similarly, Tuco and Blondie, a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood, last served its customers indoors in late October.
“It hit us hard,” said James Miller of 4 Star Restaurant Group, which operates Tuco and Blondie. “Going through a winter where you don’t have meals inside and rely on four tables outside is tough.”
Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, told NBC 5 that every little bit helps restaurants.
“We are in a pandemic,” he said. “We are not asking for 100% capacity. We ask for social distancing, wearing your mask, keeping your place clean and sanitized, PPE in place.
State health officials plan to closely monitor test positivity, critical care bed availability and the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 “and if the numbers start to shift in the wrong direction, regions could see an increase in mitigations coming back.