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Runners at Belmont Harbor
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is closed to the public “until further notice”

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

UPDATE: In a press conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed that Chicago's lakefront (including all parkland east of Lakeshore Drive), the 606 and the Chicago Riverwalk are closed to the public, effective immediately. According to the mayor, violators who congregate in these public places will be warned, ticketed and—if they still refuse to comply—arrested. Chicago Police Department acting superintendent Charlie Beck said that police will be enforcing Gov. J.B. Pritzker's "stay-at-home" order at all times throughout the city—not just on the Lakefront, the 606 and the Riverwalk. "We’re not saying that you can’t exercise, but we’re saying that you can’t congregate," Mayor Lightfoot said, making it clear that she's prepared to take further action if unsafe crowds begin forming in Chicago's inland parks.

ORIGINAL STORY: Well, that escalated quickly. Yesterday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot threatened to close Chicago's public parks and lakefront if residents didn't stop flocking to these outdoor destinations and flouting social distancing guidelines established in Gov. J.B. Pritzker's "stay-at-home" order. This morning, Mayor Lightfoot has already taken action, closing down public access to the Lakefront Trail (as well as the beaches and parks that line the shore of Lake Michigan) and The 606 path that runs through Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park and Logan Square.

While the Mayor has yet to make an official statement about the closures, several aldermen have informed their communities of the decision this morning. In an email to his constituents, 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman stated that "Effective 8am today, Thursday, March 26, the Lakefront Trail, park, and beaches from Ardmore south is closed to public access." Osterman explained that the order has been put in place to ensure social distancing, urging residents to take walks in their own neighborhoods.

Taking to Twitter, 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins responded to a report of police cutting off access to the Lakefront Trail, stating that the Lakefront Trail and adjacent parks are "closed to the public until further notice." According to Hopkins's tweet, "Chicago Police will enforce this order with a 3 step escalation 1) warning 2) citation 3) arrest."

In an email update sent out this morning, 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman claimed that The 606 is also closed to the public, likely in response to the large groups of people who crowded the elevated path during yesterday's burst of warm weather (and were documented by a Chicago Tribune photographer). But according to a report from Block Club Chicago, enforcement of this shutdown doesn't seem to have started yet—people were seen entering the trail from its east and west ends this morning.

Expect more details about the closures when Mayor Lightfoot speaks at a 1pm press conference this afternoon.

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