Jun 30, 2020
City Beaches, In Use Despite Closure, Need Lifeguards, Alderman Says
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CHICAGO — The city’s beaches are still closed, but that has not stopped residents from using them — and a North Side alderman is asking the city to staff lifeguards at beaches ahead of the holiday weekend.
As the city reopens following the months-long stay at home order, lakefront parks and beaches remain closed.Still, residents have taken to the beaches, where potentially dangerous water conditions await them.
Ald. Maria Hadden (49th), whose Rogers Park ward includes a number of beaches, is calling on the city to provide lifeguards to monitor beaches and prevent drownings.
Hadden said people are heading to the closed beaches “in droves” despite the closure. Given that Lake Michigan is at record-high levels, conditions are not favorable for unsupervised swimming, she said.
“It’s a dangerous body of water under the best of circumstances, but current conditions mean dangerous currents and lots of unseen structural obstacles that make it even more treacherous,” Hadden said on Facebook. “With another holiday weekend upon us and no lifeguards in the works, I fear for drownings that may occur.”
Hadden said she has been working with the Chicago Park District and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office to get lifeguards at beaches.
The city has said “social distance ambassadors” are being deployed to prevent crowding along the Lakefront Trail. But those efforts are “not sufficient” to address the issue at beaches, Hadden said.
The Chicago Park District did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While the city has recently reopened the Lakefront Trail, beaches are closed this holiday weekend, when crowds usually descend on the lakefront. It’s not sure yet when they’ll officially reopen.
Lightfoot has asked residents to stay away from city beaches and cautioned Chicagoans from going in the water.
“I just want to caution people again about the dangers of the lake,” Lightfoot said during a June 18 press conference. “Every year we have way too many instances of drowning because people underestimate the power of this lake. It is very powerful. It has a very heavy undertow.”
In lieu of getting lifeguards to the lakefront in time for the Fourth of July weekend, Hadden is imploring Chicagoans to stay away from the beach and to definitely not go into the water.
“There is no one there to save them if they get into trouble,” Hadden said.
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Customers not ready to return to restaurants, despite reopening: study
Maybe getting a reservation won’t be so hard after all.
While many businesses, especially restaurants, seem eager to reopen, a new study suggests that not all of the customers are ready to return. Based on the results, fewer than half of the people surveyed would feel comfortable going out to eat within a month of restaurants reopening.
Only 40 percent of Americans who participated in the survey said they would go out to eat during the first month of reopening, Business Insider reports, based on Harris Poll data. The survey tracked “consumer sentiment” in regard to restaurants over the last 15 weeks.
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According to the most recent survey from the end of June, 20 percent of the respondents said they would wait two to three months after to coronavirus infection curve flattened to go out to a restaurant. An additional 17 percent said they would wait four to six months, with another 10 percent saying they would wait up to 11 months.
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Over 10,000 restaurants have already closed permanently since the beginning of March, Business Insider reports.
While foot traffic to restaurants has reportedly shown an upward trend as the businesses start to reopen (mainly for outdoor dining), those numbers are significantly lower than where they were in previous years. Part of the reason for this, however, is that many restaurants are still not able to operate at anywhere close to full capacity.
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Many restaurants have pivoted to to-go orders, but they still haven’t been able to make up for the loss of being able to serve diners on the premises.