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Illinois Enters Phase 5 Of Reopening; Chicago Businesses Open At Full Capacity Friday

CHICAGO (CBS)-- For the first time in more than a year, things will look closer to normal in Chicago, as Illinois enters Phase 5 of reopening.

This means, no more capacity limits at bars, restaurants or businesses. So, if you have plans at a restaurant or business today, don't be surprised to see it packed with people.

Even with capacity limits, businesses can still require masks.

Coffee shop Chicago French Press opened in the South Loop September of 2020, in the middle of the pandemic.

Owner Kris Christian says some things worked in their favor when they first opened, including the huge courtyard right outside her store at Roosevelt Collection Shops.

She's excited about what a full reopening will mean for her business.

"It's really for us about being ready, stocked, staffed to accommodate the influx of people," Christian said.

Then there's Chicago Waffles, also in the South Loop.

A waitress told CBS 2 work hours were shortened and tips decreased during the pandemic. This reopening means more business.

It was a different story for Dylan Frederickson, the owner of Boulevard Vet in Ravenswood, who opened a new location last September. He said it was perfect timing with more people staying home and the increase in pet ownership.

Frederickson said his Ravenswood location will wait until July 6 to reopen at full capacity.

"It's a huge relief to be able to go back to the type of relationship that we knew and enjoyed before with clients, to be able to sit down, see them face to face and talk about their families," Frederickson said.

Another business that saw growth during the pandemic was Amy's Candy Bar also in Ravenswood.

Owner Amy Hansen says even with locking their doors in order to control the number of people who could enter the store at a time, they still had their best year ever.

With long lines and online orders, she says people were eager to buy quarantine treats and "thinking of you" gifts.

But she's ready for the change that will come with Phase 5.

"It is nice that we don't have to go open the door every time for someone," Hansen said. "They can feel free. I think people will just have a sense of freedom."

Josie Rivas, owner of Olivaceto on LaGrange Road sells olive oil from all over the world as well as balsamic vinegar.

It's a business that heavily relies on tastings. The mask mandate meant people couldn't take them off to taste her products in the store before buying.

That meant curb side pick up and the farmer's market were her best option.

Rivas says the pandemic affected at least 50 % of her bottom line. She's excited for Phase 5.

There's Nina Joseph Makovski who is owner of Water Lemon in LaGrange. She runs a multi-faceted store for kids with an indoor play, a party venue and a clothing and gifts section.

The pandemic stopped her from hosting parties and large gatherings, a big part of her business.

She focused on curbside pickup and online orders. She's looking forward to getting back to normal.

Owners at District, a retail store in Ravenswood, are excited to sell their vintage furniture and home accessories in person rather than over Zoom.

Many local businesses are asking customers who have not been vaccinated to wear a mask.

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