Illinois COVID case: Surge leaves Chicago restaurants, bars struggle to find common ground

CHICAGO (WLS) – COVID cases in Illinois are on the rise again, leaving restaurants and bars struggling with staff and security while trying to keep afloat during the winter.

In Lakeview East, there are reports of voluntary closings of restaurants and nightclubs for a period of time during the holidays to stop the latest wave of the virus. Not all places participate; The Chicago Bagel Authority remains open now after doing a previous shutdown and retooling.

“We shut down for a month to completely rework everything we were doing,” said George Slater, director.

RELATED: Illinois Reports 12,328 New COVID Cases, 11 Deaths As Intensive Care Beds Fill

The restaurant has done surprisingly strong business since focusing on take-out and commercial meal delivery since the onset of the COVID era. Management has said tackling the omicron variant during shutdown is not a start, but a vaccine passport detailing people’s adherence to COVID-19 vaccine protocols might be worth a look.

“A lot of places have changed, changed their business model, changed their focus and they, including ourselves, have prospered,” Slater said.

The Illinois Restaurant Association said, “If a Chicago vaccine passport is instituted, we will advocate for policies that are as business friendly as possible and do not hamper the very fragile recovery of our industry.”

Michelle Mirzoian, who is immunocompromised, fell with COVID last week. The marketing manager was celebrating the 1st anniversary of her running group at a West Town brewery.

“I still have a bit of congestion and the headache comes and goes from time to time, but for the most part my vaccine worked,” she said.

Ten of the 15 people with her that evening also contracted COVID. They have all been doubly vaccinated and boosted to protect themselves from the virus.

“In my mind, it’s there and your vaccination might not stop you from getting it exactly, but it definitely stops the severity of what we saw in 2020,” Mirozian said. “And we have to take care of each other in Chicago.”

As vaccine passport talks resume, you can expect to see more restaurants closed during the holidays due to COVID. The owner of Steingold’s chose to shut down for a few days after the owner caught the virus, even though he is also doubly vaccinated and boosted. Still, he stressed he was not hospitalized and expects to open his doors to online sales by Wednesday.

Illinois reported the most new confirmed single-day COVID cases in 2021 on Monday, with more than 12,000 confirmed.

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