Chicago's Shedd Aquarium on Wednesday announced a plan to reopen its doors to visitors for the first time in months amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Shedd will begin welcoming back members and sponsors on July 1, a spokesman for the institution said in a statement. It will then open to members of the public on July 3.
“After closing our doors for nearly four months to do our part in supporting public health, we are elated at the opportunity to welcome people back to Shedd Aquarium to look nature in the eye and in person at the aquarium,” the Shedd's President and CEO Bridget Coughlin said in a statement.
Several new protocols and requirements have been instituted at the aquarium for health and safety, the Shedd said.
Those include a "highly limited" admission capacity as well as increased air filtration, cleaning and sanitation measures.
The Shedd will have new separate entrance and exit points, timed admission, social distancing requirements, circulation paths to encourage single-directional flow and will require face coverings for anyone over 2 years old.
The iconic Chicago institution also called back 120 of its furloughed staff members to assist in the reopening, the Shedd said. Earlier this month, the aquarium eliminated 36 positions and furloughed 171 people due to "significant financial impacts resulting from prolonged closure."
The Shedd has been closed since March 13. The aquarium estimates a minimum revenue shortfall of $23 million through the end of 2020.
“These last few months have challenged and fundamentally changed us all. Just as people across Chicago and the world relied on online and digital experiences with animals like the rockhopper penguin, Wellington, for comfort, we know seeing animals in person is irreplaceable," Coughlin's statement continued. "We are eager to welcome the communities that supported us and our reopening. Experiencing our Mission alongside all of Chicago fuels us and has never been more important than it is now.”