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Navy Pier set for ‘cautious,’ phased reopening without Centennial Wheel

The Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater will remain closed for now.

Centennial Wheel
Navy Pier is set to “cautiously” re-open Wednesday, but without the Centennial Wheel and with “social distancing ambassadors” reminding visitors to be safe.
Erin Brown/Sun-Times

Navy Pier is set to “cautiously” reopen Wednesday but without the Centennial Wheel and with “social distancing ambassadors” reminding visitors to be safe.

“Following Navy Pier’s longest closure in recent history, we, along with the rest of Chicago, are anxious to reopen our spaces and safely welcome guests back to the pier over the next few months as we work collectively to restore our local economy,” Marilynn Gardner, Navy Pier president and CEO, said in a statement.

“We recognize that our new reality is now accompanied by new standards, and as the people’s pier, we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure the health, safety and comfort of all who visit the pier. Our goal is to provide guests with a safe space to reconnect with Chicago through our free public programs, on-site local dining, retail and attractions, and our beloved vistas and vast green space.”

The pier is one of a number of popular Chicago-area attractions set to reopen in a limited fashion in the coming days, including the Chicago Botanic Garden and The Morton Aboretum.

Among those areas at the pier to reopen to the public Wednesday: the parking garages, outdoor restaurant spaces, the north and south docks, Polk Bros Park, Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion and Pier Park, pier officials said.

Staff are expected to frequently disinfect high-touch areas of the pier and about 75 hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed for public use. The social distancing ambassadors will roam the pier to “cordially remind guests to practice physical distancing.”

“Gathering of large groups of 10 or more people are strictly prohibited,” according to a pier statement. “Guests in violation of this practice will be subject to removal from the premises.”

The Chicago Children’s Museum and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater will remain closed during the first phase of the reopening, officials said.

Navy Pier has been closed since March 16.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is set to open its doors June 9, with the opening of a 2.3-mile perimeter walk, a loop of the garden. Visitors, including members, are required to preregister for a specific date and time. The Morton Aboretum reopened to members June 1.