When Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the details of Phase 3 of Chicago's reopening plan last week, she said that she expected the new rules to take effect sometime in early June. Today, she revealed that the city will enter Phase 3 on June 3, just a few days after all four regions of Illinois enter Phase 3 of the state's plans on May 29.
The arrival of Phase 3 will allow a variety of Chicago businesses to reopen under safety guidelines that have been established by the city. Most notably, restaurants and coffee shops will be able to reopen with a focus on outdoor seating, and businesses like non-essential retail stores, hair salons and nail salons will open their doors with significantly reduced capacities. City services like libraries and park facilities west of Lake Shore Drive will also be reopening a few days later, on June 8.
Office buildings will also be reopening in Phase 3, prompting Mayor Lightfoot to ask that businesses stagger start- and end-times so that CTA trains and buses do not become overcrowded and make it impossible to practice social distancing. Lightfoot encouraged employers to allow teleworking if possible and stated that she expects that most businesses won't return to the Loop full-time until late summer or early fall.
Lightfoot noted that the city still has plans to reopen additional business sectors, such as summer youth programs, gyms and religious services. The mayor is also considering reopening Chicago's lakefront and beaches, noting that, "what I don't want to see happen is scenes that we've seen happen in other states, where you open up a resource that people really love and enjoy, and then it gets mobbed and you see people abandoning all the hard work and social distancing and public health guidance that really got us to the point where we can even talk about opening."
"Under no circumstance should our move to Phase 3 be confused with this crisis being over, because it's not," Mayor Lightfoot said, making it clear that social distancing guidelines, frequent hand washing and the use of face coverings in public places should still be observed. That guidance also applies to social gatherings of 10 or fewer people that will be allowed in Phase 3, and Lightfoot warned that a failure to observe that guidance could cause a spike in cases that would send Chicago back to Phase 2.
It's exciting to see Chicago making progress and to look forward to frequenting businesses that have been closed throughout much of the crisis, but the arrival of Phase 3 means that Chicagoans will have to do their part to keep themselves and others safe, ensuring that we keep moving forward through the summer.
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