Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday that she wants to reopen bars and restaurants “as soon as possible.”
Indoor dining has been banned since October in the state and new cases of the coronavirus, deaths, and positivity rates are on the decline, Block Club Chicago reported:
All of those metrics remain significantly higher than they were in the summer, when indoor drinking and dining was allowed. For example, Chicago is seeing an average of 13 COVID-19 deaths per day as of Thursday, compared to two or three deaths per day in the summer.
But the city has made progress since its fall surge, and Gov. JB Pritzker said the state will roll back some mitigations starting Friday.
“I am very, very focused on getting our restaurants reopened,” Lightfoot said, just days before President-elect Joe Biden is to be sworn in. “So that’s a conversation I will have with the governor.”
Lightfoot argued restaurants are “highly regulated for health and safety purposes, are regularly inspected and because they’ve gone ‘above and beyond’ to put in mitigations to protect customers and staff.”
She said restaurants will be “one of the safer places.”
Lightfoot said after indoor dining was banned, residents would hold “secret, underground parties in hotels and businesses.”
“If we have people and give them an outlet for entertainment … we have much more of an opportunity, in my view, to be able to regulate and control that environment,” Lightfoot said, according to Block Club Chicago.
“Let’s bring it out of the shadows. Let’s allow them to have some recreation in restaurants, in bars, where we can actually work with responsible owners and managers to regulate and protect people from COVID-19.”
The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) is urging Pritzker “to immediately allow for safe and limited indoor dining operations,” according to a press release.
“Eating and drinking places in Illinois lost 31,000 jobs in November alone,” IRA President and CEO Sam Toia said.
“This is the highest rate of hospitality job loss in the entire country, and three times as many as the next closest state. We are also one of only three states with a complete statewide shutdown of indoor dining,” he said.
“Restaurants are out of time, and they need a more reasonable – and immediate – path forward to save the industry. This is the reckoning.”