The Shedd Aquarium has announced plans to close for the remainder of the year as coronavirus mitigations continue to heighten across Chicago.
"As city and statewide COVID mitigation efforts continue, Shedd Aquarium has decided to voluntarily close through the new year as part of a commitment to the health and safety of the community," a spokesperson for the aquarium said in a statement.
The popular Chicago destination aims to reopen by Jan. 2, officials said.
“Although we continue to be a safe place to work and visit due to limited capacity attendance, facial covering mandate and rigorous social distancing protocols, we are taking this action proactively for the positive influence it may have for all,” President and CEO Bridget Coughlin said in a statement. “While the aquarium’s doors may physically close, Shedd’s mission has never been more alive and open. We remain committed to creating meaningful moments of learning, joy, engagement, and respite and to do our part to continue to support the recovery and healing of our city and state.”
Essential staff will continue to care for the aquarium's 32,000 animals and maintain the facility, the aquarium said. Employees who can work from home will do so, officials said.
"Shedd is committed to continuing to pay all staff. Those employees, such as guest relations staff, who do not have the option to work from home will be still be compensated for a similar duration of the initial closure should this second closure last as long," a release from the aquarium read. "Many guest relations staff will be provided career development during the closure including taking online Spanish courses and learning more about marine biology."
Meanwhile, the Shedd said it will offer digital programs "that encourage discovery and bring guests eye-to-eye with animals from the comfort and safety of their homes."