CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is loosening the city’s COVID-19 restrictions, allowing for fans to return to the United Center for Bulls and Blackhawks games, and allowing restaurants, theaters, and other businesses to serve more customers indoors.

With 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Chicago so far, and case numbers dropping, Lightfoot said the city can now “broadly loosen capacity restrictions” across the city.

“As many of you remember, we were seeing a troubling rise in our COVID numbers in March that caused our city to pause our cautious reopening plan. Since then, we’ve made significant progress in reversing this rise, and this combined with the ongoing distribution of the vaccine has allowed us to loosen phase four regulations comfortably, to allow for higher capacity across industries, and as a result, to launch this great initiative, open Chicago,” Lightfoot announced Thursday morning at Navy Pier, which begins a phased reopening on Friday.

According to the mayor’s office, new indoor capacity rules in Chicago include:

Restaurants and bars: Indoor capacity can increase to the lesser of 50% or 100 people (up from 50% or 50 people);
Spectator events, theater, and performing arts: Large indoor venues, including the United Center, can now operate at 25% capacity. 
Meetings, conferences, and conventions: Large indoor venues can now operate at the lesser of 25% or 250 people. 
Places of worship: Large indoor venues can now operate at 25% capacity.  
Festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events: Operate at 15 people per 1,000 sq. ft. 
Flea and farmers markets: Operate at 25% capacity or 15 people per 1,000 sq. Ft. 

The city had already allowed for 25% capacity for games and other events at Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, and Soldier Field.

The Blackhawks and Bulls will take a phased-in approach to hosting fans. Beginning May 1, the teams will host a few hundred player family members and team-invited guests only until welcoming the general public back to the arena on May 7.

The Bulls will start bringing fans back for their May 7 game against the Boston Celtics, while the Blackhawks will bring fans back for their May 9 game against the Dallas Stars. Ticket information will be released by the teams later.

All tickets for both teams will be distributed as mobile tickets to aid in the contactless entry process. No paper tickets will be distributed.

Masks will be required inside the stadium, fans will be seated in pods of two to four people spaced six feet apart, the United Center will be split into dedicated entrance and exit points, fans will be required to complete a health questionnaire on their mobile device within 12 hours of the start of games, no bags will be allowed except for limited exemptions for medical bags or diaper bags, and all concessions will be cashless.

In addition, effective immediately, guests who are fully vaccinated – defined as 14 days after receiving their final vaccine dose – won’t count towards capacity limits at private events such as weddings.

This is a developing story…



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