Illinois bars, restaurants can reopen a month earlier with outdoor seating, Pritzker says

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Illinois restaurants and bars looking to reopen their outdoor dining areas during the coronavirus pandemic will now be allowed to do so a month earlier than expected, the state’s governor says.

J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday the parts of the food industry have been moved to Phase 3 of the state's reopening plans, which are expected to begin May 29.

Previously, restrictions on restaurants and bars in Illinois were not scheduled to be lifted until Phase 4, slated to begin in late June, according to Fox32 Chicago.

"After listening to and working with restaurant industry representatives together with our epidemiologists, today I’m announcing an additional option for bars and restaurants interested in resuming operations earlier: opening for outdoor seating when Phase 3 begins, likely for everyone just nine days from now," Pritzker said Wednesday.


“With the right restrictions, tables six feet apart and away from the sidewalks, masks and distancing measures for staff and other precautions, the experts believe that these services can open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities and give our hospitality industry a much-needed boost as they work to keep their businesses on their feet during this terrible crisis,” he added.

The Illinois Restaurant Association has been pushing Pritzker to accelerate the state’s reopening plans for those in the food service industry.

Sam Toia, its president, told NBC Chicago the change announced this week “provides a glimmer of light at the end of this very dark tunnel.”


Pritzker is also calling on local governments to assist businesses in expanding their outdoor seating.

“Do whatever is in their power and best fits their communities to help these restaurants,” he said during his press conference Wednesday, according to Fox32 Chicago.

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