CHICAGO (CBS) — Bar and restaurant owners are being told to follow the capacity rules or get shut down this holiday weekend. Those owners pledge to practice safety.
For many bars that just opened last weekend, July 4th weekend is the big test. It will be a challenge controlling long lines when when social distancing amid COVId-19 tends to vanish.
“We’re expecting to have a full house this weekend,” said Malinda Mittelheuser, operations manager at Utopian Tailgate.
But at Utopian Tailgate in Old Town, don’t expect to just walk up. There is a system.
“We have about 250 people coming on Saturday,” Mittelheuser said.
They know that because of prior reservations for the whole holiday.
“And if we don’t have a table ready for them, we ask them to leave the building so that we don’t have people congregating inside,” she said.
A text message alerts them when to come back. Once on the rooftop, no games can be played — just eating and drinking at tables that fill space where those games used to be.
A counting system controls the number of people outside and inside where the citywide rule is that a space can only be filled up to 25% capacity.
Sidetrack Bar in Boystown is capping customers’ stay at two hours with no wandering around from tables and congregating.
“My community desperately wants to be around folks who are like themselves. And bars have been our refuge. We’re not going to screw this up,” said Sidetrack co-owner Art Johnston. “Of course we don’t like to turn people away, but it’s truly for the greater good. And we’re not allowed to have lines outside. And that’s ok with us.”
But as some owners make preparations, the reality is some are not. City officials are already threatening to take action against those that don’t comply. They even urge the public to file complaints at 311.
“Perhaps this will scare some people into better adherence,” said Johnson.
Places that violate the rules are looking at a possible $10,000 fine. Investigators say they will come out immediately.
Bars and restaurants also have to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m.
Owners also said security will be on hand if things get out of control.