Beaches, swim­ming pools stay closed

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN, CITY HALL RE­PORTER fspiel­man@sun­ | @fspiel­man

With tem­per­a­tures con­tin­u­ing to rise well into the 90s, Mayor Lori Light­foot said Mon­day she has or­dered the Chicago Park District to open its splash pools but keep beaches and other swim­ming pools closed.

Ever since she par­tially re­opened the lake­front — for tran­sit and ex­er­cise only — Chicagoans chomp­ing at the bit to take a dip in Lake Michi­gan or dive into a pool to get some re­lief from the sum­mer heat have been ask­ing whether beaches and pools would be next.

The an­swer came Mon­day dur­ing a City

Hall news conference called to tout a util­ity bill re­lief pro­gram in­cluded in the mayor’s 2020 bud­get.

“We don’t see the beaches open­ing up any time soon,” the mayor said.

“The chal­lenge with the beaches — and with swim­ming pools, let’s just add that in — is that they are ripe for con­gre­gate gath­er­ing and not so­cial dis­tanc­ing. … Given where we are — which is progress, but we have some con­cerns — we’re not gonna take any steps that could tip us ... back­wards. So, for now, the beaches and swim­ming pools will re­main closed.”

Chicago has en­dured a steady string of days with tem­per­a­tures soar­ing into the 90s. More of the same is fore­cast be­fore tem­per­a­tures fi­nally break Satur­day.

“We’ve got cool­ing cen­ters that we’ve opened up. We’ve got cool­ing buses that are gonna be avail­able. We’re gonna be open­ing up the splash pools in the parks so that adults and chil­dren can get some re­lief,” Light­foot said.

“But I don’t see a cir­cum­stance yet be­cause I don’t think the pub­lic health met­rics will al­low for it where we’re gonna be open­ing up the beaches or swim­ming pools.”

10 busi­nesses cited for COVID ca­pac­ity vi­o­la­tions

Last week, Light­foot threat­ened to shut down bars and restau­rants that defy city ca­pac­ity lim­its, warn­ing: “If we shut you down, you’re not com­ing back any time soon.”

Light­foot de­liv­ered that toughlove mes­sage dur­ing a conference call with bar and restau­rant own­ers. She told them the July Fourth hol­i­day weekend was “make-or­break” for them. Abide by the rules or “suf­fer the con­se­quences.”

Mon­day, the Depart­ment of Busi­ness Af­fairs and Con­sumer Protection re­ported its task force of in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­ducted “49 full in­ves­ti­ga­tions” in en­ter­tain­ment dis­tricts across the city, in­clud­ing River North, Wrigleyvil­le, Lin­coln Park and Wicker Park, in re­sponse to con­sumer complaints.

In the end, 10 ci­ta­tions — each with the threat of a $10,000 fine — were is­sued to five busi­nesses ac­cused of fail­ing to main­tain so­cial dis­tance.

The depart­ment also worked with the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment’s Marine Unit to shut down Chicago Lake­front Cruises in re­sponse to vi­o­la­tions that ap­palled the mayor af­ter she saw pictures of a crowded cruise posted on so­cial me­dia.

“That was un­be­liev­ably ir­re­spon­si­ble. … They had no pre­tense of so­cial dis­tanc­ing. They had every sin­gle per­son that was on that boat — al­most a hun­dred peo­ple — crammed into the top deck. If you’ve seen the pictures of it, it’s just out­ra­geous. I saw it on Satur­day evening, and you can be sure that I let off a few col­or­ful words [about] the stu­pid­ity of this boat,” Light­foot said.

“We shut them down on Satur­day night. The marine unit brought them back into port. We got ev­ery­body off the boat. And there’s gonna be con­se­quences for them. As I said last week, the time of say­ing, ‘Pretty please’ and ‘Won’t you’ and try­ing to ed­u­cate — that’s over. They chose to do some­thing that was a clear vi­o­la­tion, that put every sin­gle one of those peo­ple on that boat at risk. They put their prof­its over pub­lic health.”

Help avail­able with util­ity bills

The util­ity billing re­lief plan got a “soft launch” in April. The city has al­ready en­rolled 3,315 Chicagoans el­i­gi­ble for $2.9 million in debt for­give­ness af­ter send­ing out no­tices to nearly 8,000 el­i­gi­ble home­own­ers. That’s an av­er­age of nearly $900 of re­lief per-cus­tomer.

“Once you en­roll in this pro­gram, your wa­ter and sewer bill will be cut by 50% — cre­at­ing much needed space in tight bud­gets. Not only will you get re­lief on pay­ments mov­ing for­ward, you’ll also have the op­por­tu­nity to have your debt for­given if you make all your pay­ments af­ter a year in the pro­gram,” Light­foot said.

“When the deck is stacked against fam­i­lies, our whole city suf­fers. It is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal that we help thou­sands of our fam­i­lies es­cape the crip­pling cy­cle of debt that keeps them in a con­stant state of strug­gle. … This is what equity and in­clu­sion looks like.”


Of­fi­cially, Chicago’s beaches re­main closed. But with tem­per­a­tures in the 90s again, that may­oral or­der didn’t stop these peo­ple from jump­ing into Lake Michi­gan from this spot along the Lake­front Trail near West Di­versey Park­way on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

Mayor Light­foot

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