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Chicago Restaurants Can Seat Parties Larger Than Six for the First Time Since 2020

The change applies for outdoor dining only, indoor rules remain the same

Three chums sitting outside wearing fall coats under a tent.
Outdoor table limits have increased.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This city is going to need bigger pods, igloos, and yurts. For the first time since March 2020, Chicago restaurants will be able to seat parties of more than six at a single table. The city has loosened COVID-19 rules so restaurants with outdoor seating can serve tables with a maximum of 10. Indoor dining will remain limited to six people per table, but the city is loosening rules for outdoor private events. Weddings and other social gatherings can now have up to 100 people versus the previous 50-person limit.

A four-person per table limit remains in place for bars, regardless if patrons are sitting inside or outside. The city says it will evaluate COVID-19 conditions in a week. Key COVID-19 metrics — emergency department visits, positivity rate, the number of cases, and bed occupancy inside intensive-care units — are rising. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady has urged the public to continue to keep their guards up.

Diners must continue to wear face coverings even while seated waiting for food. Restaurant staff and bartenders are also required to follow the mask mandate. The city’s updated regulations also highlight that residents still need to abide by the six-foot rule.

Indoor dining restrictions — a 50-person limit per room or 50-percent capacity — remain the same. Meanwhile, restaurant staff and others without underlying conditions await March 29 when they’ll be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Chicago. Workers at grocery and liquor stores, as well as food factories — including bakeries, distilleries, and breweries — are already eligible.

Chicago cut the maximum table size from 10 to six in July 2020. Though some restaurants have taken to dividing larger parties into nearby tables, health experts wanted to decrease mingling and the chance of spread. As the temperatures warm up, increasing the number of people allowed to dine together is a positive sign even though the pandemic is ongoing.

  • Chicago boosts capacity for some outdoor activities [Crain’s]

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