Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s shutdown order applies to Chicago’s entire Lake Michigan shoreline, from north to south.
That includes all “trails, bike paths, green spaces, facilities and parks adjacent to the lakefront.” It also applies to Millennium Park, the downtown Riverwalk and the 606 trail.
The order will be enforced by Chicago Police officers around-the-clock and “throughout the city, interim Supt. Charlie Beck said Thursday. “This is a 24/7 legal order to comply.”
Police will start with a warning, then a citation that carries the possibility of a $500 fine. If that’s not enough, violators will be arrested.
Although closures are confined to the lakefront and the downtown area, Lightfoot stressed the order is not an invitation to gather en masse at parks away from the lakefront.
She also warned “any and all contact sports, like basketball, soccer and football” are forbidden. The mayor was horrified by large games she saw over the last few days.
“I’ve seen — and we’ve had repeated reports of — people engaging in full contact sports as if this virus isn’t serious. A pandemic means it’s here in our midst every day and we’ve got to all do our part,” the mayor said.
Beck acknowledged the enforcement operation puts his officers “in a posture that is unfamiliar to traditional law enforcement efforts.” But they have no choice but to disperse large groups.
He urged Chicagoans to look at the big picture.
“That police officer is doing it for your safety. They’re not doing it because they want to do it. They’re not doing it because they take pleasure in it. They’re doing it to keep you safe,” he said.
“And if that’s not enough for you, they’re doing it to keep everybody else safe from your activity.”