The City of Chicago eased more restrictions on businesses Tuesday, as COVID-19 metrics continue to improve in the wake of a prolonged winter surge.
Businesses — including bars, restaurants, performance venues and movie theaters — can expand their capacity to 50%, and fitness classes can increase to 20 people. Bars and restaurants will be allowed to remain open until 1 a.m.; liquor stores can stay open until 11 p.m.
Social distancing regulations will remain in place at dining establishments, with no more than six people allowed at tables and six feet of social distancing required between groups.
“I am thrilled that we have reached 50% capacity, but I again call on all of our businesses and residents to double down on what works. We must remain diligent as we continue to move forward cautiously and responsibly,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a press release.
The city’s reopening framework has four criteria: daily COVID cases, positivity rates, ER visits for COVID-like illness and ICU beds occupied by COVID patients. All four of those are now either at a “Lower-Risk” or “Moderate-Risk” level.
At Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, 1214 E. 53rd St., general manager Henry Beals said the store will take a graduated approach, moving closing time back to 10 p.m. and then, if that goes well, to 11.
“We always want to make sure that we keep our customers’ and employees’ safety ahead of anything else,” he said.
Beals said that sales have actually been up during the pandemic, something he attributed to the store’s adoption of a delivery service.
“The other part that kind of played into our success is that there’s been a resurgence of supporting Black-owned (business), and we’re a Black-owned liquor store, so that’s been a help as well,” he said. “The one thing that seems to be consistent is that liquor is recession-proof to an extent. People gotta drink.”
Jonathan Swain, who owns the Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, and produces the Hyde Park Summer Festival, formerly the Brew Fest, said he is still evaluating and talking with the city about holding the festival this year. "Those decisions are yet to be made," he said.
Beals added that, though he couldn’t give specific details yet, the store is planning to unveil a charity initiative in the near future. “We’re not just focused on the selling aspect of the business,” he said. “We’re part of the community.”