Chicago looks to expand outdoor dining as 135K more vaccinated in Illinois

The City of Chicago is looking to expand outdoor dining this spring through a new initiative that will award grants to create long-term outdoor public spaces.

The Chicago Alfresco program will award a limited number of grants of up to $250,000 to local community organizations for projects "that are anchored by outdoor dining and highlight community-focused placemaking, support community identity, and provide opportunities for public enjoyment," Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said in a statement.

Proposed project durations must be a minimum of six months and preference will be given to those that commit to up to three years, officials said.


The program is funded by Diageo, a beverage alcohol producer, and is part of the city’s push for more neighborhood tourism, officials said.

Proposals must be submitted by April 15, with groundbreaking slated for June 1, officials said.

The announcement comes as Illinois health officials Friday reported 135,535 more COVID-19 vaccine doses administered statewide, the state’s second-highest one-day shot total, bringing the state one day closer to a return to normalcy.

A total of 4,510,696 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of Thursday night, the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Health officials Friday also reported 2,380 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with 12 additional deaths.

COVID-19 hospital admissions remain near an all-time low, with 1,132 beds occupied as of Thursday night, officials said.