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City of Chicago Phase IV: What Restaurants and Bars Need to Know

City of Chicago Phase IV Begins Friday, June 26: Indoor Dining at 25% Occupancy Per Room or 50 People Per Room Maximum



Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Business Affairs and Consumer Protections (BACP) Commissioner Rosa Escareno recently announced that the city of Chicago will begin Phase IV - Gradually Resume on 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 city of Chicago's Food Service Industry Working Group, which has advised the city on reopening guidelines, recommended indoor dining operations at levels that ensure 6 feet of social distancing or at 50% occupancy limits, in line with what the state of Illinois is considering. While we are pleased with the announcement of June 26 as the phase-in date, and it's a start, a 25% capacity restriction compounded with a limit of 50 guests per room is insufficient for recovery.

As one of the most highly-regulated industries, restaurants are accustomed to operating by the strictest of standards when it comes to sanitation, food safety, and other health-focused requirements. In the city of Chicago, more than 90,000 employees in foodservice have been laid off, and our restaurants have lost nearly $600 million dollars in sales between the months of March and May. Chicago's restaurants are well-equipped, willing and ready to safely reopen their dining rooms. It is imperative that they have the opportunity to do so at greater capacities before they can no longer sustain their businesses and are forced to close their doors for good.

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


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