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Phase IV Begins, Business Interruption Grants, Minimum Wage Reminders

Thursday, June 25, 2020  
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The Illinois Restaurant Association continues to engage with local, state, and federal officials to help our employers and employees address concerns about COVID-19.

Please see the below resources and information for your business - updated as of 5:10 p.m. on Thursday, June 25.



State of Illinois Phase IV Begins Tomorrow - Guidelines for Restaurants and Bars



All four regions of the state are on track to move into Phase 4 tomorrow - Friday, June 26. Earlier this week, Governor J.B. Pritzker released the Restore Illinois Phase IV Guidelines for Reopening for various industries, including restaurants and bars. Click here to read the full announcement.

Click here to read the Phase IV Guidelines for indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and bars.

There is no set capacity cap for restaurants and bars based on percentage of occupancy or number of people during Phase IV. Seated area capacity of restaurants and bars should be determined by arranging seating to provide a minimum of six feet between tables or other designated patron service areas.

Indoor dining can reopen with groups of 10 or less, with tables spaced 6-feet apart in seated areas and with standing areas at no more than 25% of capacity. Capacity restrictions will be reassessed based on the latest science and public health metrics on an ongoing basis throughout Phase IV.

Additional guidelines to note:

  • For booth seating, employers may use consecutive booths to serve patrons of unrelated parties only if employer installs an impermeable barrier with a height of 6-ft or greater from the floor between booths. Use of barriers should not impede entry/ exit or impose a fire risk. Use of plexiglass is a best practice.

  • Buffets and self-service food stations (e.g. hot and cold bars, bulk items, baked goods) are permitted, and should adhere to minimum additional guidelines.

  • Hotel meeting rooms and ballrooms, as well as other indoor and outdoor event venues (excluding arenas, stadiums, and other mass gathering venues) must adhere to the state's Meetings and Social Events Guidelines.

  • Meetings and social events are limited to lesser of 50 guests with or 50% of overall room capacity.

A state of Illinois Phase IV reopening toolkit for restaurants and bars is also available here.

Restaurants and bars located in the city of Chicago must follow the city's Phase IV - Gradually Reopen guidelines for restaurants and bars. Restaurants and bars should refer to local authorities and health departments for additional guidelines during Phase IV.


City of Chicago Phase IV - Guidelines Restaurants Need to Know


The city of Chicago will enter Phase IV tomorrow - Friday, June 26.

Restaurants will be permitted to resume indoor dining at 25% occupancy per room - or 50 people per room (whichever is fewer) - at the beginning of Phase IV.

BACP has provided the following clarifications and guidance related to occupancy:

  • In order to determine 25% occupancy:

  • Use occupancy placard and divide by 4

  • OR, calculate square footage of indoor space and then divide by 60.

  • Restaurants should use total square footage to determine 25% occupancy, not just dining room space

  • Business owners may determine how a "room" is defined. The city's intention is that all rooms are fully separate

  • Staff should not be included in the 50 per room or capacity calculations

  • Tables and seats in a room where 50% or more of a wall can be removed via the opening of windows, doors, or panels do not count toward indoor occupancy, provided that dining tables are within 8-ft from such outdoor openings 

Click here to read the Phase IV - Gradually Reopen guidelines for restaurants and bars.

The IRA will continue to advocate for increases in indoor dining occupancy during Phase IV with necessary safety measures in place.

Key points from the Phase IV guidelines that are updated from the Phase III guidelines:

  • Each indoor room / floor is limited to no more than 50 individuals, while practicing social distancing, or 25% capacity (whichever is fewer)

  • No more than 10 people per table

  • For event venues / banquet halls, adhere to capacity and gathering restrictions for indoor / outdoor spaces (depending on setting)

  • All patrons must be seated; counter / bar seating allowed if 6 ft distancing can be maintained between customers (consider use of Plexiglas between customers and bartenders)

  • Cafeterias, buffets, or self-serve food may resume if an employee is serving the food and wearing proper PPE

The IRA has compiled the various operational guidelines that Chicago restaurants and bars must be aware of as they reopen, including: sidewalk café and expanded outdoor dining FAQs, federal paid sick leave requirements, cocktails to go regulations, 11:00 p.m. ending time for alcohol sales notice, and more.

Click here to review the guidelines.


City of Chicago Expected Guidelines for Easing Restrictions

The city of Chicago has shared the Chicago Department of Public Health's (CDPH) draft plan for easing of gathering and capacity restrictions according to the risk level determined by the CDC.

The city is currently in the “Moderate-high” risk category. While we don’t know exactly when we will be able to move down to “Moderate” risk, you can track the progress the city is making on the CDPH tracker. The official CDC guidance is that an area needs to be in the new risk level for 14 consecutive days in order to officially move down (or up) to the new risk level.


City of Chicago Business Self-Certification for Reopening



The city of Chicago has developed an updated self-certification program for businesses that plan to reopen in Phase IV. Employers are highly encouraged to indicate their ability to comply with the city's standards by completing the self-certification process.

Click here to read more and take the self-certification.


State of Illinois Business Interruption Grant Application


The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will launch the first round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) on Friday, June 26. The BIG program will provide $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures.

  • The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures.

  • DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses in early July.

  • The total program funding will amount to at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 of which has been set aside for childcare providers, and is funded by the CARES Act.

In the first wave of grants, priority will be given to small businesses that have been heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic and are located in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs).

  • Businesses eligible for the program must have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by eligible costs or losses in excess of the grant amount, since March and may continue to face depressed revenues or closure.

  • Businesses must also have been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020.

  • An emphasis will also be placed on those businesses that are located in areas that have experienced recent property damage due to civil unrest, exacerbating the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Specifically, the program includes support for:

  • Businesses in DIAs - $20 million for businesses that are located in a subset of DIAs that have recently experienced significant property damage, providing 1,000 grants of $20,000 each

  • Bars and Restaurants - $20 million for bars and restaurants unable to offer outside service, providing at least 1,000 grants of up to $20,000 each

  • Restaurants and bars with under $3 million in annual sales will be eligible to apply

  • Barbershops and Salons - $10 million for barbershops and salons, providing 1,000 grants of $10,000 each

  • Gyms and Fitness Centers - $10 million for gyms and fitness centers that have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19, providing 500 grants of $20,000 each

DCEO will begin accepting applications on Friday, June 26. Until the 26th, DCEO is posting the application questions and required documents for businesses and business support organizations to read, review and prepare.


Take Our Two Minute Survey - Tell Us About Your Reopening Plans


The Illinois Restaurant Association is currently surveying restaurants and bars around the state to determine the status of reopening indoor dining during Phase IV of Restore Illinois. 

Please take two minutes to complete our survey to share your current plans and any challenges you are facing.

Click here to complete the survey.

Click here to review the state of Illinois Phase IV guidance for restaurants and bars. Operators must also look to their local municipalities and health departments for further guidance. The city of Chicago's Phase IV reopening guidance for restaurants and bars can be found here.


Minimum Wage and Tipped Wage Increases In Effect July 1, 2020


On July 1, 2020, minimum wage and tipped wage increases go into effect for the state of Illinois, Cook County, and city of Chicago.

Please review the below rate increases and take action accordingly for your business.

State of Illinois

  • Current minimum wage - $9.25

  • Current tipped wage - $5.55

  • Minimum wage starting July 1, 2020 - $10.00

  • Tipped wage starting July 1, 2020 - $6.00

Click here for more information on the state of Illinois' minimum wage law.

Cook County*

  • Current minimum wage - $12.00

  • Current tipped wage - $5.25

  • Minimum wage starting July 1, 2020 - $13.00

  • Tipped wage starting July 1, 2020 - $5.30

Click here for more information on Cook County's minimum wage law.

*More than 100 municipalities within Cook County have opted out of Cook County's minimum wage ordinance. Please check with your local authorities to confirm whether or not this law applies to your business. If your municipality has opted out of Cook County's minimum wage ordinance, you must follow the state of Illinois' minimum wage law. Employers with tipped employees should take special note that they should pay the higher Illinois tipped wage of $6.00 per hour than the lower Cook County tipped wage of $5.30.

City of Chicago**

  • Current minimum wage - $13.00

  • Current tipped wage - $6.40

  • Minimum wage starting July 1, 2020 - $14.00

  • Tipped wage starting July 1, 2020 - $8.40

Click here for more information on the city of Chicago's minimum wage law.

**Effective July 1, 2020, small employers (4-20 employees) in the city of Chicago are required to pay employees a minimum wage of $13.50 and a tipped wage of $8.10.


Get Certified in ServSafe Sanitation Manager Training


As our industry continues to face extraordinary challenges, it is more important than ever to train staff in critical food safety protocols. Protect your business and reassure your customers that you are prepared to meet ongoing challenges by having certified Sanitation Managers on staff. 

The IRA is your trusted source for training and certification. We are complying with all new safety and social distancing guidelines, and limiting classes to groups of 10 - with seating six feet apart. All attendees will be required to wear a face mask, and bring a #2 pencil for the certification exam.

Our instructors are recognized as leaders in foodservice instruction, and are certified by the Chicago Department of Public Health and the National Restaurant Association.

We offer classes every week, year-round, with bilingual instruction available in English and Spanish. IRA members receive discounted pricing.

Sign up today for a class through August 2020.

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