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Chicago Restaurant Owners Disappointed City Will Not Increase Restaurant Capacity When State Allows

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As the State of Illinois eases restrictions for indoor dining, there is capacity confusion for Chicago restaurants. But the city is standing firm on a 25% limit.

In the West Loop there is a constant flow of customers walking through the doors at Swift and Sons. Outside people can be found eating in tents and even spruced up yurts.

"We are spending a lot of money right now to be COVID safe," said General Manager Wesley Conger.

That is why Conger cannot understand the discrepancies restaurants are getting from the state and city about expanding beyond the 25% capacity for indoor dinning.

"Confused is I guess the best way to put," she said. "We get so many different things from so many different places."

Next week the state is willing to expand indoor dining in suburban Cook County and Chicago, but city officials are not ready to give the OK just yet.

"I think we're all wondering how much more time do we need," Conger said.

The state says Chicago has seen enough consecutive days where the positivity rate was at or below 6.5%, but city health leaders say that's still not enough.

When indoor dining resumed last week, we're told the tables at Swift and Sons filled quickly, but Conger said expanding indoor dining means something bigger.

"We're preventing people from being able to work," she said. 'We're preventing people from being able to take care of their families and themselves."

Over at Virtue restaurant and bar in Hyde Park, the owners are also looking forward to bringing back more dining.

"We are definitely doing what we can to keep people employed," said owner Erick Williams. 

Williams says he has stopped waiting on the state or city to give him a  green light for indoor dining.

"It's just more advantageous for me and more prudent for me to focus on what we have in front of us," he said.

He is playing the cards in his hand.

But Conger wants the state and city to agree.

"I think the frustration comes with just being able to know what to do at this point," she said. 

Restaurant owners fear their customers will go outside the city if they cannot get a table indoors.

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