Their decision to re-open these areas will be ultimately be guided by the science.
In a press conference unveiling ‘Protecting Chicago’ — the city’s plan for re-opening, Mayor Lightfoot warned that popular outdoor destinations like Lakefront and The 606 will likely remain closed to the public for some time.
On March 26, the city closed Lakefront, adjacent parks, beaches, trails, and Riverwalk after residents flocked to the areas to enjoy the warm weather.
“While our parks and other green spaces offer residents a brief respite during this stay at home order, we simply must take action to prevent the large gatherings that are putting our public health at risk,” said Mayor Lightfoot on the occasion.
“As we work tirelessly to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of COVID-19, we need people to stay at home as much as possible. Our order to temporarily close access to the Lakefront and restrict gatherings has now become a necessary step in our effort to protect people, and to get our city through this crisis as quickly as possible.”
Although all regions, including Chicago, are currently under Phase 2 of Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, which permits outdoor activities so long as social distancing is maintained, those areas have nonetheless remained off-limits to the public.
In Lightfoot’s recent press conference, the mayor remarked the unpredictability of the virus, which is why the city hasn’t released any official dates or plans for re-opening. The process, she said, would continue to be guided by science and the most current data.
“We could put a date out but it would be completely arbitrary,” said the mayor.
Responding to a question about opening The 606 Trail, Lakefront, parks, and playgrounds in Phase 3, the Mayor said their decision to ultimately open the areas would be guided by the science.
“I’ve got to be confident that we can open up those larger venues… in a way that still allows us to maintain social distancing,” the mayor said.
In order to prevent the city from receding, the mayor said that those venues would remain closed despite the allure of warmer weather.
However, the mayor did mention that the city was in conversation concerning the possibility of a phased opening of certain zones in segmented hours for particular types of activities.
In the meantime the city will continue their discussions with the Chicago Parks Department and local alderman to organize a plan “dictated by what the public health guidance tell us.”
The earliest possible date for Chicago to move into Phase 3 of Restore Illinois is May 29.
Feature photo: @hllycthrn