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Restaurants test ‘vaccinated-only’ sections as Chicago reopens

Published: May. 24, 2021 at 4:27 AM CDT
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CHICAGO (WBBM) - Under new guidance, Chicago restaurants are reopening with no restrictions, as long as only vaccinated people are allowed. Some have responded by creating separate sections for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Restaurant owners hope the separate sections ease concerns for those who may be apprehensive about dining out again. If patrons and employees are vaccinated, there are no restrictions for them, but the unvaccinated will continue to have distanced tables and partitions.

Sam Sanchez, owner of Moe’s Cantina, says he decided to divide his restaurant in two. Customers will have to show proof of their full vaccination to get a neon pink bracelet, which allows them to relax in a seat or stool in the area with no restrictions.

“Then, you’re free to come on this side, go to the bar, stand around. You can actually be pre-pandemic,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez says the city signed off on the plan, and it’s going to make all the difference for his business and others.

“I think this helps the businesses get back to not even a break-even but closer to a break-even,” he said.

This change is possible through new Chicago guidelines saying, “Establishments can operate without COVID-19 restrictions within their establishment if only vaccinated patrons and employees are allowed in within that area.”

Businesses with late hour licenses can operate without restrictions but only if all customers are vaccinated. Dance floors can reopen with no masks or distancing, only if a business has verified those people are vaccinated.

“That’s the direction we want to go to get back to normal,” Sanchez said.

Businesses can also choose to allow only vaccinated people to enter, and city officials say several smaller bars have asked about that option.

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