Lightfoot: Stay-at-home order likely to last ‘deep into April’

Mayor says the final call will be made by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. But his staff is “looking at similar data to what we are.”

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a news conference in Chicago on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Chicago officials ordered the city’s lakefront trails and nearby parks shut down.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the stay-at-home order might be extended.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The statewide stay-at-home order is likely to continue “deep into April,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday, but the final call will be made by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The governor’s order is scheduled to expire April 7. So does his statewide order that closed all public and private schools. Lightfoot has ordered Chicago Public Schools closed through April 20.

In a conference call with reporters Friday, the mayor was asked whether she has had any discussions with Pritzker about extending the stay-at-home order.

“I don’t want to get ahead of the governor and his team. You’ve seen what we’ve done here in Chicago with schools, with the order that we issued yesterday [shutting down the lakefront and other public gathering places], which is unending until further notice,” the mayor said.

“I think, realistically, we’re looking at something that’s gonna stretch deep into April. ... The governor’s team are very able. They’re looking at similar data to what we are. And I’m sure that is a conversation that is probably under active discussion.”

Stay-at-home compliance

One day after admonishing Chicagoans for violating the governor’s stay-at-home mandate, Lightfoot said she was thrilled at the response to her unprecedented order.

Now that she has cut off public access to the lakefront and all of its parks and beaches, along with Millennium Park, the downtown Riverwalk and the 606 Trail, people are staying away from those iconic spots, the mayor said.

“I’m not aware of any other arrests. There were some warnings that were issued. But by and large, I have to thank Chicago. People have complied and responded in an incredible way,” Lightfoot said.

“I watched the lakefront yesterday and all day today and the compliance has been remarkable as well as [in] other areas of the city. So, hats off to Chicagoans for understanding and staying home to save lives.”

No delay in raising minimum wage, fair workweek ordinance

Despite the extraordinary pressure the pandemic has imposed on small business, Lightfoot said she has no plans to delay plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021 or the so-called fair workweek ordinance that requires businesses to give their employees advance notice of their work schedules. Nor will she suspend the city’s plastic bag tax.

Although other major cities struggling to control the coronavirus have called a halt to nonessential construction, Lightfoot said, “We’re not at that point yet and, if we do that, we’ll do that in conjunction with the state.”

But the mayor did confirm what Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully told the Sun-Times days ago: residential street-sweeping, tree-trimming and tree removal are likely to be postponed until after the city turns the corner in the war against the coronavirus.

“Look, this is a balancing act. And we’re being realistic about, what we think is the length of time that we’re gonna be in this current state and also being fair to the frontline workers who are showing up every day and making sure that we’re not burning out their bandwidth. That we’re focusing their energies on the most important essential services that we’re providing,” the mayor said, apparently referring to garbage collection.

O’Hare Airport expansion

With the airline industry decimated by the coronavirus, Lightfoot was asked about the long-term viability of the $8.7 billion O’Hare Airport expansion plan and whether it might need to be scaled back.

“Both the airlines and the airports ... will get significant revenues as a result of the stimulus package that was just passed,” the mayor said, noting she has been in “daily conversations with our airline partners” for weeks.

“They started to see a significant drop-off in their businesses. They were, in some ways, the hardest hit. We are doing everything that we can to be good partners for them. Right now, there is no intention to delay or put off the expansion of O’Hare. That’s still important. But we will obviously make any necessary adjustments in collaboration with our airline partners and also recognizing that we’ve got to respect various ... bond covenants that are out there as well.”

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