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A Full Chicago Reopening Brings Some Challenges, But A Jolt Of Excitement In Wrigleyville

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In a mere eight days, the City of Chicago will officially reopen – with COVID-19 capacity restrictions lifted for full bars, restaurants, and ballparks.

As CBS 2's Marie Saavedra reported Thursday night, the news sent a jolt through entertainment districts such as Wrigleyville. But the pressure is on businesses to be ready.

In the before times, a summer weekend at Sluggers, 3540 N. Clark St., would have involved people shoulder-to-shoulder around the bar on a summer weekend as the Cubs played less than a block away. That may seem like a distant memory, but in a week, it will be reality again.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot had previously targeted July 4 for a full reopening of the city, but during a Facebook Live question and answer session Thursday morning with Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, the mayor said the city will now join the rest of Illinois in moving to the final phase of the state's reopening plan on June 11.

"I think we're ready to move to Phase 5 with the state next Friday, June 11th," Lightfoot said.

So next Friday, Chicago will join the rest of Illinois in lifting capacity limits for all businesses. Including Sluggers.

"I think for everyone it's a collective, 'Thank God,' and, 'It's about time,' and, 'Let's go,'" said Sluggers owner David Strauss.

Strauss said he has seen bigger crowds lately, representing sure signs of improvement.

"This past weekend was the first time that it started to really kind of feel normal again," he said.

But that enthusiasm is still outpacing the number of people working in your favorite bar or restaurant.

"Just not enough staff to handle the demand of people who are finally ready to go out and want to go out," Strauss said.

Unemployment benefits are still keeping some away, while others found different jobs. But by opening at 100 percent capacity, there are new opportunities for everyone - be they work or play.

And meanwhile, the Cubs host the Cardinals June 11-13.

"Now that it's 100 percent, now's the time - especially with Cubs and Cards," Strauss said. "Now's the time, and anyone's who's looking for jobs - we're hiring. Sluggers is hiring!"

Even with this reopening, businesses still can choose to operate however they're comfortable with their own decisions on spacing and masking. Chicago's Department of Public Health says about 63 percent of Chicagoans have had at least one dose of a vaccine.

That's enough to reopen, but it's also a reminder that for many, the risk of the virus remains.

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