Lightfoot pushes to reopen restaurants and bars in Chicago “as quickly as possible” – NBC Chicago

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday she wants to reopen restaurants and bars in Chicago “as quickly as possible,” which she said will be the subject of a conversation with the governor.

“I’m very, very focused on reopening our restaurants, if we look at the various criteria the state has set, we meet most, if not all of those,” Lightfoot said. “So that’s a conversation I will have with the governor, but I want our restaurants and bars to reopen as quickly as possible.”

The mayor added that restaurants in Chicago have gone “above and beyond” to put in place coronavirus mitigation measures, which she says are highly regulated and checked regularly. Lightfoot said restaurants and bars would be “one of the safest places”.

According to Lightfoot, after restaurants and bars closed, city health officials saw more people moving into private spaces without masks and causing more risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“In the bar area, we have a lot more opportunities, in my opinion, to be able to regulate and control that environment,” Lightfoot said. “People engage in risky behavior that not only puts themselves at risk, but also puts their families, co-workers and others at risk.”

She added that she is “very strongly” convinced that Chicago is “very close” to a point where officials should discuss reopening bars and restaurants to the public.

According to Gov. JB Pritzker, some areas of Illinois could begin lifting Tier 3 restrictions as early as this week if they follow the right measures. However, it is unclear which mitigations would be lifted.

The governor did not give a specific day when a decision on lifting the mitigations would be announced, but he said last week that the first regions that could leave Tier 3 would be Friday.

“Since November 30, I have maintained – on the advice of Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the [Illinois Department of Public Health] and other infectious disease experts – that it would be unwise to downgrade a region from our current level three mitigation measures during the holiday season, when people were particularly prone to congregate in multi-family groups and do so without a mask — the things that could deliver the ominous ‘push after poke’,” Pritzker said during an update on the state’s coronavirus response on Wednesday.

He noted that the state “hasn’t experienced the post-Thanksgiving surge that has affected much of the country” and said state health officials are “watching closely” the post-Christmas period and the new Year.

“I am cautiously optimistic because there are early signs that some regions have made real progress and will not reverse that progress this week or next,” Pritzker continued.

“So on January 15, exactly one incubation period from New Year’s Day, any region that has reached the mitigation reduction parameters will be able to exit Tier Three of our mitigation plan,” said he declared.

All 11 regions in Illinois have been under Tier 3 mitigations since Nov. 20, which reduced capacity limits for outdoor dining and other activities, suspended indoor dining entirely , closed indoor leisure venues like theaters and casinos and increased other restrictions.

A region can move to Tier 2 mitigation measures if it sees a test positivity rate of less than 12% for three consecutive days and if more than 20% of intensive care and hospital beds are available, as well as a drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations in seven of the previous 10. days.

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