August 25, 2020
Mayor Lightfoot Joins BMO Harris Bank and Illinois Restaurant Association to Launch Winter Design Challenge to Reimagine Winter Outdoor Dining
Competition will challenge residents to design practical winter outdoor dining solutions for restaurants impacted by COVID-19

Mayor's Press Release

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, in partnership with IDEO, BMO Harris Bank and the Illinois Restaurant Association, today announced the Winter Design Challenge, a first-of-its-kind competition that will engage community members to reimagine the winter outdoor dining experience in Chicago. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a variety of challenges to Chicago’s restaurant and bar owners, and the Winter Design Challenge will draw on the expertise and creativity of Chicago residents to propose innovative outdoor dining solutions that adhere to COVID-19 protocols. The Challenge will run from August 25 to September 7, with winners announced in mid-September. 

“While we’ve had to implement restrictions and take hard measures to combat a recent rise in COVID-19 activity, we will continue to ensure our restaurants, bars and businesses have the supports they need to survive during these unprecedented times,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “We are asking our community members to come together and think creatively about how we can make outdoor dining feasible in the winter.”   

The Winter Design Challenge will use human-centered design principles to generate ideas that are tailor made to suit the needs of Chicago residents and take into account the many stakeholders involved – from customers to restaurant workers to construction trade workers. In partnership with IDEO, a leading global design company, the City will use design thinking to find ideas that are innovative, viable, equitable and feasible.  

All City of Chicago residents are invited to participate in the Winter Design Challenge. Submissions will be accepted on IDEO’s open innovation platform. A panel of local restaurants and community members will select one winner in each of the following categories: 1) outdoor, standalone structures 2) indoor-adjacent spaces and 3) cultural shifts making winter dining more appealing. All submissions must comply with local COVID-19 guidelines. Thanks to support from BMO Harris Bank, each winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize and opportunities to pilot their idea at restaurants and bars in the City. 
“At BMO Harris Bank, we are committed to investing in our local communities, and we’re here to help support Chicago’s restaurants during this difficult time,” said Eric Smith, Vice Chair of BMO Harris Bank. “We know that Chicago residents are innovative and forward-thinking, and we look forward to seeing their ideas for supporting our restaurants and bars, and I hope that the solutions that come out of the Winter Design Challenge will remain long after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.” 

The Winter Design Challenge builds on Mayor Lightfoot’s efforts to support restaurants and bars during each phase of the City’s re-opening framework. In May, Mayor Lightfoot announced the Expanded Outdoor Dining Program, which has allowed over 300 restaurants and bars to temporarily into the street or private property. This program was recently expanded to allow taverns without a Retail Food Establishment license to expand into the sidewalk area for the first time. In June, Chicago City Council passed Mayor Lightfoot’s reforms to the sidewalk café permit, making it easier and cheaper for restaurants to operate on their sidewalk space. The City is looking for innovative ideas to keep bars and restaurants thriving during the cold winter months. 

“Our restaurants and bars are the heart and soul of the city, and we must do everything possible to keep them operational during the harsh winter months,” said Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association. “We need out-of-the-box thinking to address the hardship facing our industry. The Winter Design Challenge demonstrates the City’s support of innovation in these trying times, and we look forward to ideas that are both creative and operationally attainable for our members." 
To learn more about The Winter Design Challenge, click here

August 24, 2020
City of Chicago Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Snapchat Lens Encouraging Residents to Wear Masks
Mayor Lightfoot’s new Snapchat account hosts platform’s first augmented reality lens to require a face mask

CHICAGO – The City of Chicago today launched another engagement tool to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Chicago—a Snapchat lens. The social media platform is popular amongst Millennials and Gen Zers, a demographic that has seen a recent rise in case numbers in Chicago, and which the City believes is key to stemming the virus.  To encourage users to wear masks when in public, this first-of-its-kind Snapchat augmented reality lens deploys new technology that only allows the user to unlock the lens when they put on a mask.  

“Our youth are smart, civically-minded people,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “They know their personal actions help keep them and their friends and families safe. By using this fun, unique tool we reach them where they are—on their phones, on social media—and at the point when they have a choice to make about wearing that mask.”  

Mayor Lightfoot today also launched her own Snapchat account as another method of outreach to Chicago’s youth. Anyone interested in following Mayor Lightfoot on Snapchat can find her @MayorLightfoot. 

Known for offering its users “Easter eggs,” or hidden surprises found only through unique codes, Snapchat collaborated with Ogilvy-Chicago to design an AR lens that is “quintessential Chicago.” The City worked closely with Snap Inc. and Ogilvy to produce, refine and complete the new designs to ensure they were aligned with the City’s current public health awareness initiatives, specifically, the ‘We Are All ONE Team: Team Up, Mask Up’ campaign. 

“Youth are often given a hard time, so we’ve been looking for ways to empower Chicago’s younger residents to share out the precautions they are taking in confronting this pandemic,” said Joe Sciarrotta, deputy chief creative officer worldwide for Ogilvy.  “We saw this lens as a perfect opportunity to help young people prove through their social networks that they are making the right choices and truly believe ‘We are all one team.’”  

The City of Chicago is the first to deploy this technology, and it continues to be an innovator in raising awareness around the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical for all Chicagoans to do their part and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our families and communities safe. The best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to practice good hand hygiene, stay six feet from others, and wear a face covering when going out in public and when around people who don’t live in your household or at risk. For more information on COVID-19 in Chicago, visit