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Chicago Businesses Adjusting As City Prepares For Full Reopening

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After 452 days Chicago will finally fully reopen, according to a decision by Mayor Lori Lightfoot Thursday. The COVID-19 rules go away Friday, June 11 in the city and across the state.

CBS 2's Steven Graves found not everyone is ready to open all the way. People he spoke with agree the city is not in the COVID clear yet, but another common feeling, especially for small businesses, is nervous excitement.

As the rules currently stand at Chavas Tacos in West Town, customers who come in cannot sit.

"Everybody is tired of eating in their cars," said Cristina Mendez, manager of Chavas Tacos.

People turn away when they see the spaced out "stand only" signs.

"We are ready! We want everyone to come in and eat," said Mendez.

Next Friday that can happen. The Phase Five green light Thursday was a surprise from Lightfoot, who said a full reopening was not happening until July 4. On June 11 no social distancing will be required at places like restaurants, but business can make the choice on that or masking up.

"If the city allows it, we are going to do it. Our doors are open," said Mendez.

"But for us, we're not ready to open our doors," said Ivan Vega, executive director of Urban Theater Company in Humboldt Park.

Theaters are also on the full reopening list, but Vega said his theater has other ideas. There will be no audience for live performances in the small space, but actors will record plays.

"Find ways that we can have a virtual presentation and also have outdoor presentations of the play as well," said Vega.

Vega has hesitation in part because people in his community, specifically with underlying conditions, are still getting sick.

"They've passed or they have just been very sick so things are opening up, but we don't know what's going to happen down the line," he said.

The mayor said a case count drop, social distancing and vaccinations have gotten us to this point.
But in Mendez and Vega's zip codes, full vaccinations can still go up, at least by 40%. Thursday Lightfoot also urged young, black Chicagoans to fill a gap and get the vaccine, reminding that there is still a pandemic.

"I don't think it's over. I just think that we can find a way to take control over it," she said.

Masks are still required on public transit, in health care settings and schools. Festivals, office spaces and sports venues are also on the full reopening list. But businesses do still have the right to make stricter rules.

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