Chicago’s lakefront trails, beaches and parks are closed effective immediately, according to announcements from 49th ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden, who represents Rogers Park, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“You simply cannot congregate,” Lightfoot said in a press conference March 26.
This move doesn’t come as a surprise, after Lightfoot threatened in a March 25 press conference to close down public spaces along the lakefront if residents continued to ignore Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. Lightfoot said she saw hundreds of residents congregating March 25 on the lakefront due to the warm weather and decided that further action needed to be taken.
The closures will apply to the entire lakefront, including Loyola Beach, which is located roughly a mile north of Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.
Lightfoot said the closures will be enforced “aggressively” by police, who will order people to disperse and then issue a citation. If necessary, police will arrest people in violation of these rules. The closures also ban all contact sports such as basketball, soccer and football.
It’s unclear if the closures will affect the lakefront paths on campus in front of Loyola’s Information Commons, as Loyola officials didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
This decision is meant to curb the transmission of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. As of March 26, Illinois has 2,538 confirmed coronavirus cases and 26 people have died from the virus, The Phoenix reported. Of that total, Chicago has 1,161 cases and 9 deaths, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“We’re headed the way of New York,” Hadden said in a video posted to Facebook. “People need to stay home.”
New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus in the U.S. The New York Department of Health has reported that there are 37,528 cases and 385 deaths in the state.
The closures won’t apply to other non-lakefront parks and public spaces in the city. However, Lightfoot and other city officials urged the public not to congregate in the parks that remain open.