Here are the guidelines Illinois issued for bars and restaurants looking to re-open. Get familiar with them as a failure to meet these minimum standards could amount to trouble from regulators and grounds for liability from customers or employees that get sick.

As part of Illinois’s path to re-opening those businesses shut-down or limited by Illinois’s stay at home orders, the state government, through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, has released guidelines for a multitude of businesses and business settings to implement in order to re-open.

There are plans and kits for retailers, manufacturers, offices, salons, spas, fitness centers, camps, and bars and restaurants, to name a few.

The guidelines for bars and restaurants are extensive and you should review them prior to designing and considering your plans for re-opening to ensure compliance as deviations from the guidelines might not just amount to potential issues with regulators. Given the lack of current immunity from claims for injury to customers or by employees, failure to follow the guidelines could be utilized as grounds for a breach of a standard of care – a threshold common to claims for monetary relief for injury.

The guidelines detail that outdoor dining and drinking with parties of 6 or less is the only method of service allowed for in-person on-premise consumption in the upcoming Phase 3 portion of Illinois’s phased re-opening plan. The guidelines note that additional regulations on outdoor activities by units of local government and health departments should also be expected (this is in addition to the current FDA, CDC and OSHA guidelines, some of which the Illinois’s guidelines reference and link to.

Some important points, but by no means an exhaustive list of issues an illinois bar or restaurant will need to understand:

  • Employees need to wear face coverings and gloves and seating should have a minimum of 6 feet between tables – use of plexiglass between tables is recommended as a best practice.
  • Frequent handwashing and supplies to accomplish the same are a responsibility of the establishment.
  • All employees should complete health and safety training related to COVID-19 and employers need to make temperature checks available and implement a wellness screening program. Those in contact with those diagnosed are to be quarantined as well.
  • Signage should be displayed in your bar or restaurant (see this toolkit) regarding face coverage, cleaning, and social distancing.
  • Table presets (reusable menus, salt & pepper, non-disposable silverware etc.) should be eliminated.
  • Customers should handle their own leftovers.
  • CDC protocols for cleaning – and clean common high-traffic areas every half-hour. Disinfect between seating parties.
  • You’ll want to screen supplier delivery personnel and you need to keep a log of all personnel from suppliers that visit for deliveries.


And just in case you were curious about the litany of other materials you’d be irresponsible not to review…

Additional Resources:


Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

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