Our Opinion

Some positives have occurred during the pandemic, as hard as they might be to appreciate sometimes.

And, as all of Illinois prepares to enter Phase 5 of the reopening plan on Friday, June 11, it would be great if many of those positives remained.

Local bars and restaurants should be commended for constructing outdoor dining areas, often in their parking lots. The spaces beautify the neighborhood and provide a safe, fun spot to gather.

Even better, outdoor dining areas decrease the number of vehicles buzzing in and out of parking lots, and they encourage people to walk or bike to their favorite neighborhood spots.

It might have been difficult for restaurants to limit parking, but with summer arriving, it’s much easier for patrons to ditch the car and travel by foot to local business corridors.

Outdoor dining is becoming more popular, with restaurants like Nicky’s of Beverly, which opened its new location at 105th Street and Western Avenue in January, providing not only outdoor tables, but large, inviting windows that encourage passers-by to stop in.

Bike racks are also prevalent along Western Avenue, and Divvy, the city-run bike-sharing service, has stations throughout Beverly, Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood.

In Phase 5, businesses no longer face capacity restrictions, which means more dining and drinking can take place indoors. If they so choose, bars and restaurants can take down their outdoor patios.

However, it would be a shame to see many of them come down after staff members worked so hard to construct them to serve local residents during the last 15 months.

Beverly was recently awarded a People Spot by the city, part of Chicago Alfresco, an initiative that comes on the heels of the city expanding its outdoor dining program.

An area with individual benches and planters will be constructed at 103rd and Wood streets, outside Ohana Ice and Treats. The People Spot will provide a comfortable spot for patrons of nearby businesses to enjoy the outdoors for some relaxing minutes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that people are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 during outdoor activities.

While the pandemic seems to be fading away, people should still be cautious.

Fortunately, there are now many more options for local patrons to enjoy a drink, a meal and a pleasant conversation—while enjoying the great outdoors.