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Feature

Sandy Noto
June 2, 2020
What We Know About Eating In Chicago Restaurants Right Now
Do you need a mask? Should you make a reservation? We answer these questions and more.
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As of June 3rd, all restaurants in Chicago were allowed to reopen for outdoor dining only under phase III protocol, as long as everyone is following a lengthy set of rules. You can feel free to read the government’s PowerPoint presentation here . But we’re going to unpack the most important info below to better understand what eating at a restaurant will look like right now.

Editor's Note: As of June 17th bars and breweries were allowed to reopen for outdoor drinking, as long as they follow the same guidelines.

OK - so it’s just outdoor dining for now, right? What about rooftops? Or spots with retractable roofs?

Yes, right now it’s just outdoor dining. And dining areas considered outdoors include rooftops, places with retractable roofs, and indoor spaces where 50% or more of a wall can be removed by opening windows, doors, or panels - as long as tables are within eight feet of the openings.

Do I have to wear a mask?

Yes. Customers must wear masks as they enter and exit restaurants or use restrooms, but you’re allowed to take the mask off once you’re seated.

Does the restaurant staff have to wear masks?

Yes. Every single restaurant employee is required to wear a mask, so just assume everyone is smiling politely at you for being such an understanding, patient customer.

What else are restaurants doing to ensure a sanitary environment?

Tables and chairs are to be wiped down after each party’s use, high-touch areas will be disinfected every 30 minutes, and hand sanitizer and handwashing stations will be available. While a lot of it will be less noticeable, there will also be things like disposable menus, contactless payments (when possible), and single-use condiments.

Will I have to get my temperature taken before I’m seated?

No, no one will be pointing an electronic thermometer at your forehead on the way to the table. But, obviously, if you’re experiencing any symptoms at all, please stay home.

How about employees?

Restaurant employees are required to do a self-screening before every shift. You can find the screening questionnaire at the bottom of the PDF here.

How crowded will restaurants be?

Right now all tables must be six feet apart. So the crowd will depend on the size of the outdoor space. And in cases where social distancing is difficult, they’re encouraged to use barriers like plexiglass.

Do I have to make a reservation?

Maybe, it depends. To avoid crowded waiting areas, restaurants are encouraged to accept reservations. Just to be sure, pretend like it’s 1995 again and call them on the phone. Restaurants will be happy to let you know whether or not you need a reservation.

How many people can I bring with me?

Parties of six are the maximum size allowed per table at this point, and no gatherings larger than 10.

I don’t think I’m ready to eat out yet, but I still want to support restaurants. How can I do that?_

We totally get that. Since it’s very hard for a restaurant to succeed with just outdoor dining, many of them will continue to do takeout and delivery as well. We’ve already published a bunch of takeout-specific guides, with everything from Where To Get Food For A Picnic to the Best Delivery & Takeout For Your Birthday. We’ll keep them updated so you can continue to support your favorite restaurants through delivery and takeout.

You didn’t answer my question.

Sorry about that. If you have a question for us, you can always reach out at newsletter@theinfatuation.com. But the best and easiest way to get clear, fast answers about a restaurant is to just call that restaurant directly. They’ll be happy to chat. Just be patient, understanding, and kind. These are weird times, and we’re all trying to adjust safely.

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