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Customers Now Adhering To Dining Rules Better Than In Recent Months, City Of Chicago Says

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's been about a week since the dining rules relaxed in Chicago and many of the suburbs, and a trend line has emerged that might be surprising: The rules are being followed far more than they have been in recent months.

For months CBS 2 has reported about the tables not far enough apart and the masks not being worn and the capacity limits ignored, but the relaxed rules have created more rule following.

At Virtue in Hyde Park patience isn't on the menu, but it's the only recipe for success.

"We feel very fortunate that we are in a position to stay afloat," said owner Erick Williams.

Fifty percent of staff are back to service the 25% of tables allowed to be seated inside. Once inside, customers are honoring dining rules far better than before.

"People are adhering to the standard a lot better than we've seen in the past," said Williams.

According to Chicago's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection office, since the pandemic began there were 8,281 COVID-19 related investigations, including anything from lack of masks to inadequate spacing.

There were 425 citations issued, an average of about nine per week.

In the first six nights of indoor dining there were 96 investigations and only one citation.

That one was at The Drip G art gallery. The city says organizers brought:  "79 patrons to eat and drink indoors."

But overall the city says citywide "compliance is much higher than it was before limited indoor dining was allowed to resume."

The industry learned Friday that when Chicago eventually exits Tier 1 mitigation the 25% capacity rule wont immediately go away.

"I think we are finally at a place where this is feeling like routine, and many of us are accepting that this is going to be around for a while," said Williams.

At Virtue they are often having to turn away customers, but at present they are not turning a profit. Williams says they are staying afloat and keeping his staff safe and employed.

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