Chicago will move ahead into the next phase of reopening Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced. That transition that had been put into question following violent protests across the city in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Lightfoot on Tuesday said she made the decision only after speaking with business owners, chambers of commerce and city officials, all of whom she said were fully behind moving into phase three of the state’s Restore Illinois plan during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everywhere I went I asked a question: Should we open or should we delay?” the mayor said during a press conference Tuesday. “And to universal acclaim, emphatically, what I heard from people is ‘Mayor, we have to step forward. We have to open.’”
Under the new guidance, Chicago restaurants and coffee shops will be allowed to reopen to outdoor dine-in service, along with stores, barbershops and salons, child care centers and golf courses with strict limits on the number of people allowed indoors.
* BlockClub Chicago…
City services will stay closed for the time being, though Lightfoot previously said they are scheduled to return Monday.
Lightfoot said residents can expect summer programs, youth activities, religious services, gyms and the lakefront and beaches to reopen in Phase 3 as well, but not Wednesday.
This announcement came as a surprise following a weekend full of protests, looting, violence and vandalism across the city. But Lightfoot said consulting with business owners who suffered losses from coronavirus followed by looting helped her decide to move forward anyway.
“I want to tell the city now, after a lot of consultation and, yes, a lot of prayer, we will reopen tomorrow and take this important next step as planned,” Lightfoot said. “That means numerous businesses and public spaces will be reopening to the public with limited capacity.”
She said she had made the decision after touring damaged commercial strips on the South and West sides and talking to business owners across the city — businesses that had been gearing up to reopen but were instead cleaning up debris and contacting their insurance companies.
They were nearly unanimous in their desire and determination to reopen their businesses and get people back to work, she said.
“One business owner did burst into tears, saying how much her business means to her,” Lightfoot said Tuesday. “That was a humbling experience to bear witness to their resolve.”
The mayor said police will remain deployed at grocery stores and pharmacies that have been targeted by looting.
“I have a lot of priorities but top among them are groceries, pharmacies and making sure that we can get those resources into our neighborhoods that were hard-pressed before, as you know we have too many food deserts across the city. So, I have my team working in a coordinated fashion to make sure we that we can fill those needs,” the mayor said. […]
Mayor Lightfoot said that as of Tuesday morning city officials were still considering whether to lift overnight curfews and CTA service disruptions that have been in place since Saturday in response to violence and looting.