Old Town Merchants and Residents Association
July 2020 Newsletter
In this Issue:
  • Message from the Executive Director
  • OTMRA June Events Recap
  • Phase 4 Reopening Guidelines for Chicago Businesses
  • Landmark Labor Laws in Effect July 1
  • Free COVID-19 Testing July 18
  • Back to Work Safely Guidelines
  • BACP Workshop Webinars
  • Support Local Old Town Non-Profits
  • Support Old Town Service Industry Workers
  • COVID-19 Resources
  • Old Town SSA 48 Rebate Programs
Message from
the Executive Director
The safety of visitors and residents alike is a priority for Old Town. This is especially true with Illinois moving into Phase 4. Thanks to careful planning and coordination with the City of Chicago, Old Town is ready for everyone to safely return to our neighborhood for shopping, relaxation, and fun.

The Old Town Merchants and Residents Association is committed to helping our residents stay healthy while they return to in-person shopping and dining. To help coordinate a safe return to commerce, the OTMRA issued a Re-Opening Playbook to ensure that all businesses understand the City guidelines and what best practices can keep us all safe.

The OTMRA is happy to oversee a safe re-opening of our businesses. As you gradually return to Wells Street, we ask that you still adhere to public health guidelines by wearing a mask at all times and keeping 6 feet apart from others.

Each and every one of us can do our part to curb this pandemic, and each and every one of us can move Old Town forward.

Please welcome our new member!
Vincent D.


Ian M. Tobin
Events Recap: June
Throughout June, the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association provided opportunities for community engagement, both for businesses and residents.

In partnership with Art on Sedgwick, the OTMRA offered a Virtual Paint & Sip event in early June. Participants chatted and connected while creating beautiful art pieces.

In mid-June, the OTMRA, Lincoln Park Community Services, and Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce hosted a Community Conversation addressing how best to assist individuals experiencing homelessness within the community.

Additionally, the OTMRA provided a series of Virtual Industry Meet-Ups and a business-focused webinar. The OTMRA hosted a COVID-19 Next Steps and Legislative Updates panel featuring State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (IL-6) and Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward) addressing how best to prepare for a gradual reopening.

Lastly, the OTMRA encouraged neighborhood spending through sales of a Father's Day Gift Pack .

The OTMRA will continue to bring businesses and the community together. In July, the OTMRA will continue to partner with businesses to present webinars, programs, and events.

During this time, the OTMRA also wants to be a resource for businesses and residents in the neighborhood. OTMRA staff created guides to connect people with resources available to the neighborhood. Click to access the  Small Business Guide  and the  Resident Guide .

Phase IV Reopening Guidelines for Chicago Businesses
From the City of Chicago's website:

The City of Chicago entered Phase 4 of the "Protecting Chicago" Framework on June 26th.

In Phase 4,  most Chicago businesses can open under limited capacity with appropriate safeguards in place:

  • Indoor dining allowed at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 10 people per table and 50 customers in a room/floor
  • Face coverings worn by customers and employees, except when seated and eating/drinking
  • All patrons must be seated while eating/drinking
  • Event spaces and all establishments that sell food or beverages for on-site consumption should follow the Food Service and Bars guidelines

  • Indoor activity and indoor classes can resume at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 customers in a room/floor
  • Face coverings worn by all customers and employees indoors- they can be removed for outdoor classes, provided that social distancing is in place
  • Indoor sports limited to no more than 6 people
  • Youth/amateur contact sports allowed outdoors if no more than 50 participants (including players, referees and coaches)

  • Services can be provided at 25% capacity
  • Face coverings worn by all employees and customers- can be removed by customers only during services that require their removal (i.e. beard shave)

  • Limited to 25% capacity at non-essential retail and 50% capacity at essential retail
  • Face coverings worn at all times by employees and customers

  • Can reopen indoors, limited to 25% capacity with a maximum of 50 individuals per space or room (i.e. one theater)
  • A venue may have multiple gatherings of 50 individuals in a single theater (not to exceed 25% seating capacity) if the following accommodations are in place:
  • The separate groups are clearly delineated and separated by different levels/floors (e.g., balconies);
  • The separate groups have dedicated entrances and exits; AND
  • The separate groups have dedicated restroom facilities
  • Face coverings worn by employees and customers- they can be removed by customers when seated and eating/drinking
  • Face coverings not required for actors and/or performers while performing
  • All customers must be seated, with six feet of social distancing in place

Aligned with the State of Illinois but tailored to Chicago’s context, these guidelines advise employers and residents of Chicago on how to cautiously exit from shelter-in-place while continuing to prioritize the health of our most vulnerable residents.

Please reference the materials on this page to help cautiously guide your businesses and employees during Phase III: Cautiously Reopen.

Landmark Labor Laws
in Effect July 1, 2020
On July 1, two important labor laws will take effect in Chicago.

The  Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance   will raise the minimum wage , and the  Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance   will require some large employers to provide their workers with predictable schedules and pay their workers for last minute changes.

And, as a reminder, Chicago also has an  Anti-Retaliation Ordinance , which prohibits retaliation against workers for following certain COVID-19 related health orders.

Learn more about these labor laws by visiting the
Free COVID-19 Testing July 18
On July 18 from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM, there will be free COVID-19 testing in Seward Park (375 W. Elm Street).

Attendees should bring an ID and a mask to allow for social distancing at this outdoor event.
Back to Work Safely Guidelines from the American Industrial Hygiene Association
From the American Industrial Hygiene Association Back To Work Safely Initiative:  The links below offer specific, easy-to-follow, science-based recommendations for limiting the transmission of the coronavirus while operating a wide variety of businesses, including restaurants, retail outlets, and hair and nail salons.

These guidelines were developed for those smaller business that don't have readily available occupational health and safety resources. We encourage employers, employees, and customers to carefully read and implement as many of the recommendations contained in the guidance document provided for your industry as possible.

See the full list of "Back to Work Safely" resources from the American Industrial Hygiene Association here.
BACP Workshop Webinars
Wednesday, 7/1 at 3:00 PM Webinar

City Inspections – Ask Questions, Get Answers 

Presented by the City of Chicago
To operate a successful business in Chicago you need to know what it takes to maintain compliance. Officials from several City departments will provide insight on how to operate safely, stay compliant, help prepare for inspections and highlight the do’s and don’ts of operating a business.

Wednesday, 7/8 at 3:00 PM Webinar

What You Need to Know About Your Business & Taxes

Presented by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Ladder Up
This workshop will answer important tax questions for your business including: Are you required to file a tax return? Is your worker an independent contractor or an employee? What will the IRS request during an audit? Are you required to make estimated tax payments? What resources does the IRS have for small business owners?
Support Local Old Town
Deborah's Place  is looking for assistance during this time. As a supportive housing agency, Deborah's Place continues to remain open throughout COVID-19. Residents currently need:

-Masks and disposable gloves
-Prepared meals for 30-40

Read the full COVID-19 Wish List and learn how to donate to Deborah's Place  here.
Lincoln Park Community Services provides comprehensive social services to our neighbors experiencing homelessness. During this time, we are providing shelter to more than 50 individuals through our interim housing shelters, as well as 37 other individuals through our affordable housing and permanent supportive housing. For more information, visit our website  here or email us at  volunteer@lpcschicago.org
Support Old Town
Service Industry Workers
The OTMRA has created a running list of Old Town Service Industry relief fund efforts, posted on the OTMRA Shop Local page. Please email Marketing & Membership Coordinator Rachel Rubinson at rrubinson@oldtownchicago.org to add a missing link to the list, and consider a donation if you are able.
COVID-19 Resources
The Old Town Merchants and Residents Association is prepared to act as a resource for businesses, educational institutions, and community members interested in staying up-to-date on best practices for responding to COVID-19 ("Coronavirus").
The OTMRA has created a resource guide for all businesses and residents in the community. The guide includes links to financial resources for businesses as well as general information for residents.
The OTMRA is committed to helping businesses get the word out about any promotions they have during this crisis.

Please send any graphics or ads to Marketing and Membership Coordinator Rachel Rubinson at rrubinson@oldtownchicago.org.
SSA 48 Old Town Rebates
The Old Town Special Service Area (SSA) #48, in collaboration with the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association (OTMRA), would like to announce a Security Camera Rebate Program.  

This pilot program is designed to provide business owners, property owners, and residents with a rebate for new security cameras and exterior lighting that is installed on buildings within the SSA #48 designated area. This program is intended to increase safety in our commercial corridor and SSA.

Rebates will be awarded after all work is completed and approved by the SSA 48 Old Town Residential Committee.  

The maximum rebate amount is 75% of total project expenses, not to exceed $750.00. To be approved, all necessary documentation must be submitted to the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association. Eligible applicant buildings must be located within SSA #48 boundaries.

To find the application, please click here .

Please note that you will have to submit the following information as part of the application.
- Photographs of the proposed camera location(s) and their respective views 
- Copies of property owners deed and title insurance policy 
- Proof of proper permits
- Detailed plans or specifications, 
- Detailed cost estimates from two different contractors
- Copies of all invoices and contracts.

Applications should be delivered to the OTMRA Office:
The Old Town Merchants and Residents Association 
1543 N Wells Street
Lower Level
Chicago, IL 60610

If you have any questions, please contact the OTMRA office by calling 312.951.6106 or e-mail:  otmra@oldtownchicago.org .
In cooperation with SSA 48 Old Town, the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association, has created a series of rebate programs designed to help Old Town businesses within the SSA boundaries offset unexpected expenditures incurred during COVID-19.
These programs are first-come-first-serve rebates which requires interested businesses to apply for each.

Rebates offered include: Digital Marketing, Online Sales Investment, Health & Sanitation, Boarding-Up Services, and Vandalism Repair. Learn more about the rebates offered below.

The  Digital Marketing Rebate Program will be offered to businesses that purchase online ads, boost posts on social media, purchase digital marketing software or subscriptions to online programs, or hiring a digital marketing consultant.

The  Online Sales Investment Program will be offered to businesses to invest in their website, digital marketplace infrastructure, and software or annual subscriptions to increase digital sales efficiency, or hiring an online sales consultant to build out a platform.

The  Health & Sanitation Rebate Program will be offered to businesses that purchase cleaning supplies that disinfect surfaces, personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees or customers, or other safeguard items aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 or other bacterial diseases.

The  Boarding-Up Services Rebate Program will be offered to businesses that incurred the cost of labor and materials to board-up windows to secure a property from looting and vandalism.

The  Vandalism Repair Rebate Program will be offered to businesses that incurred the cost of labor and materials to removal, repair, and prevention of vandalism on building façades: walls, doors, doorways, and windows.
Become a 2020 Member
The Old Town Merchants and Residents Association has revamped our membership program for 2020.

We now offer memberships designed for residents, businesses, non-profits, and residential buildings. Benefits include marketing and sponsorship opportunities, positions of engagement, discounts on OTMRA events, and more!

See below for information on each membership or to become a member!

See what else is going on in the Old Town neighborhood by checking out the

Submit to the calendar by filling out this  form .