Reopening Guidelines

ChiBizHub Updates:

Phase 5 Reopening Webinar: On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the ChiBizHub team at World Business Chicago in partnership with the SBDC at the ICNC joined Andrew Fox, Director of Labor Standards, City of Chicago and Diana Alfaro, Latino Business Development Manager, State of Illinois. This webinar focused on Phase 5 of reopening within the city of Chicago and what new guidelines mean for small business owners. Hear the useful information you should be aware of regarding new guidelines, limitations, and applicable restrictions and envision what this information means for your business moving forward. It also covers anticipated questions from business owners. This webinar is hosted by Jazmin Garcia, Senior Business Resource Manager at ChiBizHub.


City of Chicago:

City of Chicago Reopening Business Portal: In Phase 5, most mandatory COVID-19 regulations have been lifted, including capacity limits, social distancing requirements and mask mandates at most businesses.

Chicago Phase 5 Reopening Recommendations: Recommended prevention strategies that recognize that while Chicago has made substantial progress in vaccinating its residents, a number of individuals remain ineligible or have not yet chosen to be vaccinated. Consistent use of prevention strategies will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including customers, employees, and their families.

Helpful Reopening Webinars:

BACP Phase 5 in Chicago:

BACP Navigating New Mask Guidelines and Vaccine Exemptions:

BACP Grants, incentives, and FREE assistance for your business:

Follow City of Chicago resources to stay updated!




Contact Chicago Department of Labor Standards by calling 312.744.5000


State of Illinois

State of Illinois Phase 5 Guidelines for Businesses and Venues: To replace industry-specific guidelines in the state of Illinois:

State of Illinois Official Reopening Announcement:

Illinois First Stop Business Information Center:

Phase 5 Restore Illinois Plan:

Illinois Department of Public Health Phase 5 Overview:


Follow State of Illinois resrouces to stay updated!





Illinois OMEE Contact

Diana Alfaro, Latinx Business Development Manager (si hablo español) 


The CARES Act offers assistance to American businesses and households affected by the coronavirus, components include stimulus payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage that includes the self-employed, 6-month delay for student federal loan payments, and more. For info:

Recorded webinars:

Faith-based Organizations: The SBA has clarified that faith-based organizations are eligible to receive loans regardless of whether they provide secular social services. See the FAQ here.

CDC-recommended tips that small business owners can take to mitigate risk, protect employees and support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small Business Administration (SBA) — The Coronavirus Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources page is being continually updated with all SBA tools and resources, including preparedness checklists and different avenues to access capital.


U.S. Small Business Administration Small Business Resource Guide (Illinois Edition) offering business tips, contact information, and other resources that may be helpful.

The State of Illinois will be offering two programs for small businesses: Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG) and Distressed Capital Program. The BIG program will provide $60 million to businesses who have experienced losses or business interruption due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Distressed Capital Program will offer $25 million to support businesses that have sustained property damage as a result of civil unrest during the recent protests and demonstrations on or after May 25, 2020. This program will reimburse the costs to repair structural damages which includes repairing storefronts, improving electrical system, and restoring exterior work.  Link to apply.

Effective August 25, the State has promulgated new face covering rules requiring each bar and restaurant customer to wear a mask whenever interacting with staff. This means wearing a mask while ordering, receiving table service, and when picking up food for carry-out. This new rule has been added to Chicago’s existing reopening guidelines, which can be found at As a reminder, all of Chicago’s reopening guidelines can be enforced by the City of Chicago and it is the responsibility of the business to ensure compliance.
Furthermore, per State law, everyone over the age of two who can medically tolerate a mask must still wear a mask whenever they are unable to maintain social distance and whenever they are in a public/shared space – whether inside or outdoors.

Illinois’ GET HIRED initiative hosts virtual job fairs and professional development: GET HIRED

Educational & professional development:

Virtual Job Fair:

IL Small Business Relief Fund: Illinois Treasurer Business Invest – Illinois Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program (Illinois)

Small Business Administration. Need to talk to a small business coach or SBA team member? Visit to find a resource near you, or e-mail questions to

City of Chicago

Industry-specific guidelines include details such as how businesses can engage in healthy interactions between workers and customers, how to maintain safe working spaces and conditions, and how to design and monitor workplace operations to create flexibility and maintain safety for employees and customers. The guidelines are aligned with the State of Illinois-issued guidelines, with specificity included for the city of Chicago’s context. Guidelines can be found at

Mayor Lightfoot addressed the Economic Club of Chicago on May 13, 2020 to share the City’s current thinking on reopening. To view the speech, click here:

The Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund will provide more than $100 million in low-interest loans to severely impacted small businesses over the coming months. Visit to apply.

Business Affairs & Consumer Protection Small Business Center | The City of Chicago is committed to playing an active role in helping small business. Please visit for updates.

Private & Non Profit Support

1871’s Digitizing Small Businesses Resource Guide. The team at 1871 created a resource guide, Digitizing Small Businesses Guide, for entrepreneurs interesting to transition to online sales and engage in digital marketing. 1871 is also offering opportunities for one-to-one mentorship so if you’re interested feel free to fill out the form located in the guide.

Facebook Small Business Resource Guide. Download Facebook’s comprehensive guide to their free tools, trainings and resources across their Family of Apps – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Download here.

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce (WPBCC) Microgrant Opportunity. WPBCC has created a micro grant to financially support and sponsor marketing & promotions for partnerships between local chamber member businesses. The application closes December 31, 2021. Apply here.

The Partnership is hosting free online digital literacy training courses, available in both English and Spanish.  Improve your computer skills by participating in a live digital literacy webinar. Registration is required at least 24 hours before each event starts.  To register please use the links below:

  1. (English Registration)
  2. (Spanish Registration)

University CoWork has created and is maintaining a comprehensive list (45 current opportunities) of national/state/county/city/private grants and loans geared for south-side small businesses:

Executives’ Club of Chicago Business Resources

Free Legal Advice. Community Law Project is hosting a free Virtual Legal Clinic for Small Businesses & Nonprofits.  Click here. Small businesses and nonprofits who have suffered adversely from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis can request an appointment to receive free legal advice during a 30-minute remote consultation with a volunteer attorney.


KPMG held a webcast for not-for-profits where they summarized the issues of relevance to non-profit organizations from the recently Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act); outlined opportunities for larger non-profit organizations to apply for relief under a new program at the Department of the Treasury; identified eligibility of small business loans and grants for non-profits and various tax provisions that benefit non-profit organizations and encourage charitable contributions; and distinguished expanded unemployment benefits and related provisions. To view the webcast, please click here.

Accion Chicago is now offering city and state emergency loans and will help people figure out PPP and other programs. Visit , click the first link on that page that provides a side by side by side of City State Federal loans.

Arts for Illinois Relief Fund is now available to provide financial assistance to artists, artisans and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19. The fund is a partnership between the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the broader philanthropic community. Arts for Illinois Relief Fund is administered by Arts Alliance Illinois in partnership with 3Arts and Arts Work Fund. To date, more than $4M has been committed from public and private sources to seed an upcoming statewide campaign that will provide additional funding to meet the growing and critical needs of the state’s creative sector. Artists, artisans and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19 are urged to apply for grants through

COVID-19 Insurance Implications. World Business Chicago in partnership with Willis Tower Watson, Hennessy & Roach, P.C. and Jackson Lewis, PC, held a webinar: Risk and Insurance Implications of COVID-19. This webinar was presented to help business leaders and owners get answers to questions related to how insurance coverage may apply to potential claims related to this pandemic. The agenda included an overview of property and business interruption coverages and how various exclusions and coverage limitations may impact coverage for policy holders. In addition, we reviewed the impact on employers and their employees relating to workers compensation and employment practices issues. We also discussed third party liability issues and how liability coverage may potentially be interpreted in claims scenarios. Please click here to access the recording, and here for the presentation.

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills) is actively working with 40+ business partners across all industries to understand their current and anticipated hiring/talent needs, and are also able to support your company during this time. If you are experiencing a surge in demand and need to bring on more staff quickly, or have been forced to lay-off staff – they are here to support you. Skills has placed over 7,500 unemployed and underemployed individuals into jobs across all industries over the last eight years. If your business has been impacted, contact Cristian Sirera, Skills’ Associate Director of Business Development, at and 630-750-2120.  For more info visit:

Support Small37 Oaks, a Chicago-based consulting company on a mission to strengthen and revitalize communities through local commerce, has compiled a “Small Business Master List” to make it easy for consumers to find local businesses to patronize.  You may list your business for free, too.

Dining at a Distance was first launched and curated in Chicago in response to the COVID-19 crisis to provide an easy way to find local restaurants. Today the site has grown from Chicago to cities across the world. Restaurants are encouraged to register their business and those interested in supporting local businesses are encouraged to patronize restaurants on this list.

GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund: Provides one-time matching grants to qualifying small businesses. GoFundMe, Yelp, and Intuit QuickBooks have pledged to donate up to $1.5 million in donations into the Small Business Relief Fund. Until that Fund is depleted, will continue issuing $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses. Click link to learn how to qualify.

Kabbage launched an online hub to help boost sales for U.S small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including a system through which businesses can sell gift cards to consumers for use at a later date.

MainVest, a crowdfunding platform, announced its new Main Street Initiative: a $2,000, zero-interest, 120 day loan for restaurants or other brick and mortars affected by the shutdown, in addition to its normal fundraising offerings.

Seated Hotline for Restaurant OwnersFree advice from finance and law experts in the hospitality industry

Restaurant Employee Relief FundOperated by The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation; Created to help restaurant industry employees experiencing hardship. Grants will be made to restaurant industry employees who have demonstrated being financially impacted by COVID-19. Application Information. Applications will open 04/02/2020

Microsoft Teams freemium — Enjoy unlimited chat, built-in group and one-on-one audio or video calling, 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB of personal file storage per user. You also get real-time collaboration with the Office apps for web, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

PandaDoc — The document automation software for small and medium-sized businesses has launched a free e-signature plan to help businesses keep running while they switch to remote working. Free eSign offers include unlimited document uploads, upload and send for eSignature as many documents as you’d like, unlimited eSignatures – collect an unlimited number of legally binding eSignatures; and payment processing – accept a credit card, PayPal, or ACH payment the moment your doc is signed.

Square — The payment processor is refunding all software subscription fees for the month of March for existing sellers who currently use Square Appointments, Retail, Restaurants, Loyalty, Team Management, Payroll, Marketing, and Square Online Store. Square will manage the process for you—there’s no need to do anything. Additional product updates are also in the works. You can use the just released curbside pickup option through Square Online Store, and they plan to release a local delivery feature this week.  Curbside pickup and delivery fees are waived for the next three months.

Zoom Basic Plan — Host up to 100 participants in a meeting and hold unlimited one-on-one meetings with the video-conference provider’s complimentary plan. This does provide a 40-minute limit on group meetings, though you’re not limited to the number of meetings.

Businesses affected by COVID-19: Guidance on updating Google info and temporary closures (Google Business)

Work, teach, and learn from anywhere (Google’s Remote Work hub)

Facebook for Business Tips & Resources Impacted by COVID-19 (Facebook)

Backing Your Business During COVID-19 Outbreak (Quickbooks)

Resources to Help Your Small Business Survive the Coronavirus (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

COVID-19 Communications & Social Media Toolkit (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

3 Expert Strategies for Curbing Coronavirus-Related Business Losses (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Starting an E-Commerce Business at a Moment of Crisis (Small Business Connection)

Financial Services

Kiva is a nonprofit, that envisions a financially inclusive world where all people hold the power to improve their lives: Established in 2005 as the world’s first personal micro-lending website, Kiva enables everyday people to pool small lending contributions to provide financial access to entrepreneurs across the globe. Kiva US Loans are between $1,000 – $15,000, with repayment terms between 12 – 36 months, and 0% interest, $0 in fees. Click here to see our spotlight on Kiva.

American Express Financial Hardship — Amex is evaluating accounts on a case-by-case basis under its Financial Hardship Relief program to provide support for cardholders impacted by COVID-19. If approved, your interest rate may be lowered to rates as low as 0%, and you may receive a waiver on late and other account fees. Just note that if you accept the relief, your accounts may be frozen, and you won’t be able to use them until paid off. Your Membership Rewards balance will also be frozen, and the issuer may notify the credit bureaus that your account limits were lowered.

American Express Working Capital — Amex business cardholders can enroll with no credit check and get ongoing access to funds used for vendor payments between $500 and $150,000 with repayment terms of 30, 60 or 90 days. These charge a fixed fee between 0.6% and 5.25%.

Chase — You can call the number on the back of your card and ask to speak with an account representative about the possibility of relief from fees and interest. Multiple readers have reported success in having interest and late fees waived due to hardship related to COVID-19.

Capital One, Citi and Wells Fargo have all issued statements indicating that they are willing to work with customers that experience financial difficulties. Citi issued a statement that for 30 days, small business customers are eligible to have their monthly service fees waived.

Wells Fargo donated $6.25 million in aid to help the public relief effort. The bank encourages customers experiencing financial hardship to contact customer service for assistance. Link.

Employee, Family -- Support & Resources

The Chicago Department of Public Health offers ‘Chi COVID Coach’, a mobile-friendly, web-based application designed to support residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. You can find the app at


Resources in Other Languages – Residents can now find more information about stopping the spread of COVID-19 and protecting themselves and their families in multiple languages:

Federally funded student loans:  The CARES Act provides student debt relief in the form of suspended payments of federal loans for six months for most students. Loan forgiveness will only apply for students that have withdrawn from enrollment due to the pandemic. Click here for more information.

Senior and Older Adult Community: Helpful resources for older adults in Illinois are available at and

The Greater Chicago Food Depository benefits outreach team can help you apply for SNAP and Medicaid and make referrals for other public benefits. Call their hotline at 773-843-5416 for a free confidential interview Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., to provide meals (breakfast and lunch). Families can receive three days of meals for each young person in the household. If families have trouble getting to a site, they can call 773-553-KIDS or email at to make a request for food delivery.

The Archdiocese of Chicago offers 120 sites to support residents, which includes schools open for drive-by meal pick up Monday-Friday. Catholic Charities will continue to serve residents at their Food Pantries and Evening Meal Programs. To access other services please call 312-655-7700.

The Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. In collaboration with the City of Chicago, The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metro Chicago launched the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund to unite funds raised by Chicago’s philanthropies, corporations and individuals to be disbursed to nonprofit organizations across the region. As we are individually taking steps to protect our own families, workplaces and neighborhoods from the effects of the virus, let’s not forget the impact this will have on our neighbors. Missing paychecks, the inability to pay rent, and a lack of access to food and essential supplies are realities that many in our region will have to face in the coming weeks. Please join us in supporting our neighbors across the City of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.  To donate, or more information, click here.


Crain’s Chicago, April 21, 2020  – Every Thursday, Crain’s Small Business Lifeline provides the small business community with timely expert advice and updates about navigating the COVID-19 crisis and rebuilding for the future. Click here.

Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2020:  Lawmakers, White House Vow to Quickly Provide More Small-Business Loans

Patch, April 7, 2020:  Resources for Local Businesses Needing Help During COVID-19 Pandemic.

Bisnow, April 3, 2020: COVID-19 Impact On Chicago Economy is Unknown, But Regional Players Are Already Planning On Long-Term Changes And Eventual Recovery. Webinar recording.

AP News, March 31, 2020: A guide to surviving financially as the bills come due

Chicago Patch, March 27, 2020:  Federal Stimulus Package: How Much Illinois Residents Can Expect.

CNBC, March 25, 2020:  Stimulus Package grants student borrowers a six-month break.

New York Times, March 25, 2020:  Congress and White House Strike Deal for $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

Crain’s Chicago Business, March 24, 2020: COVID-19 Fund Makes First Grants, Prioritizes Safety-Net Providers. 

ABC News, March 23, 2020: A look at some financial assistance available during the coronavirus crisis

Apple TV+ Oprah talks COVID-19, March 22, 2020.

Harvard Business School, March 20, 2020:  How Small Businesses Can Survive the Coronavirus Outbreak.

Chicago Sun Times, March 18, 2020:  Five ways you can help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington Post, March 17, 2020:  Details on Proposed Federal COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package