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Chicagoans keep shopping amid stay-at-home advisory

Shelves in Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and Belmont-Cragin remained stocked with groceries and essentials like toilet paper — which became scarce during the initial lockdown in March — were limited to one or two per person.

Rene Reynoso, left, answers questions regarding Chicago’s stay at home advisory after buying groceries outside an Aldi at 6520 W Fullerton Ave. in Montclare, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.
Rene Reynoso, left, buys groceries at an Aldi at 6520 W Fullerton Ave. in Montclare, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Businesses were still bustling hours after Chicago’s stay-at-home advisories took effect but “panic buying” seemed to be offset by quantity restrictions put in place.

“Everybody kept their distance, and it was really peaceful inside,” said Rene Reynoso after shopping at Aldi, 6520 W Fullerton Ave. “I was surprised because with the stay-at-home order I thought it would be a more chaotic but no — it blew my mind.”

Shelves in Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and Belmont-Cragin remained stocked with groceries and essentials like toilet papers — which became scarce during the initial lockdown in March — were limited to one or two per person.

Reynoso said those limits prevented people from hoarding those items and assuring every customer could buy one.

Chicagoans are urged to hunker down at home for the next 30 days and limit social gatherings to only 10 people. Residents are encouraged not to venture out unless it is for work, groceries, medical appointments and take-out food.

Stacks of toilet paper at an Aldi at 6520 W Fullerton Ave. in Montclare, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The advisory does not shut salons, barbershops, retail stores, movie theaters or fitness clubs.

At XSport Fitness, 6420 W. Fullerton Ave., the parking lot was filled with gymgoers Monday afternoon.

Fermin Corona stopped at the northwest side fitness center for a quick workout during his lunch break. He believed the current stay-at-home advisory is “absolutely necessary” in protecting people from catching COVID-19.

“I would say, why keep healthy people at home when they can still go out in a safe manner,” Corona said. “I think everyone who is getting affected [by coronavirus] aren’t following the rules with social gatherings, and that is where most people, I think, are getting sick.”

Corona said he has had to complained in the past to gym employees for not enforcing that people wearing their masks correctly.

Fermin Corona, 46, poses for a portrait outside an XSport Fitness Center at 6420 W. Fullerton Ave. in Montclare, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“I did complain about that because I want to watch my own health too, and I don’t want to be in there with people that aren’t being safe,” Corona said. “So many people are not taking this as serious as they need too.”

Corona said he does caution against shutting down gyms or other businesses deemed non-essential and said it is up to people to properly regulate themselves.

The rising number of coronavirus cases in the city has Juanita Lane worried about the future. The 63-year-old only visited one store Monday because she is trying to limit the number of people she has contact with.

“I’m an older girl and I just started shopping online for the first time,” Lane said. “I find that it’s safer, and I plan on doing a lot more of that.”

Juanita Lane poses for a portrait outside Dollar Tree at 6460 W. Fullerton Ave. in Montclare, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.