Chicago restaurant group wants Lightfoot to reopen indoor dining, even as COVID-19 cases rise

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CHICAGO (WLS) – Chicago restaurateurs are trying to expand al fresco dining as temperatures drop, but a group of them are calling on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to reopen restaurants inside the city, even if COVID-19 cases increase. Tents and domes are quickly being built on available sidewalks, but they are not the first choice of restaurateurs or patrons. For now, with the indoor dining ban, they might be the only choice.”For the next six and a half months, maybe that’s all we can do,” said Phillip Waters, of the Bristol. Walters said the Bucktown restaurant has spent tens of thousands of dollars on filtration systems , air purifiers, UVC light and almost all other safety measures to make the dining room safe. But they’re still forced to sit customers outside, so they have portable heaters, lights, and even music systems to try and make customers feel comfortable.

But Walters and a group of other Chicago restaurateurs say they shouldn’t have to do this.

“It’s time for the city to stop using scapegoats for the virus,” said Roger Romanelli, of the Fulton Market Association.

The Fulton Market Association highlights statistics they just got from the city thanks to the Freedom of Information Act which suggests that only around 3% of COVID-19 patients the city was able to track for a period three months could be allocated to a restaurant visit. . The city’s data, however, included less than a third of those with COVID-19.

Restaurant owners are now asking the mayor to reopen the restaurants inside.

“I’m looking to shut down if the interior isn’t restored to 25%,” said Jodi Agee, Jefferson Tap.

Walters said he thinks his restaurant is safer than most homes.

“We are the gold standard of security,” he said.

Lightfoot recently announced a $ 10 million hospitality grant program to provide emergency aid to restaurants, bars and their employees, as well as an initiative called Takeout Chicago Campaign to try and get residents to order take-out during the winter to help keep restaurants open. .

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