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Chicago Area Restaurants Concerned About COVID-19 Numbers On The Rise

CHICAGO (CBS) — Rising COVID-19 numbers in the immediate area could lead to some stricter measures as early as next week.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports the possibility of new COVID guidelines is putting some business owners on edge. Suburban Cook County is expected to announce some stricter guidance for businesses come early next week as some key COVID-19 Indicators are on the rise.

But with no specifics ready just yet, business owners are confused.

La Grange’s The Elm is a success story in the age of COVID-19. The brand new restaurant opened for takeout in late May and by mid June, rules eased up to allow for socially distanced dining on its massive 2,700 square-foot rooftop deck. Owners know they’ve been lucky.

“We have been performing since we opened very well,” said Dan Spain of The Elm. “When it’s your first restaurant and you are opening up a space this large, and then a global pandemic sets in, it’s not easy.”

But with some COVID-19 numbers rising, owners have concerns about possible tighter restrictions.

“The point of when push comes to shove is when people don’t allow outdoor dining,” Spain said.

Eleven Illinois counties, to the far south and far west, have been placed at “warning level” for COVID-19, meaning tighter restrictions could be imposed if infection rates and hospitalizations continue to increase.

Suburban Cook and the city of Chicago are in Region 10, where some key indicators are on the rise. For example, the nine day positivity rate is at 5.7%, marking nine days of increases, from 4.8%. The threshold for taking action is 8%. Also, hospital admissions have increased over the last four days. Three more days of rises could trigger the state to take action.

But it’s the uncertainty of what that action might be, and how long it might last, that has even successful operations on edge.

“It’s going to be a struggle for a lot of people. A lot,” Spain said.

What Cook County plans to release next week will only be guidelines, not rules. It will most likely involve capacity and distancing limits that could more closely resemble those in the city of Chicago, which have been stricter.


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