Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer, but with Illinois still under a stay-at-home order, many residents headed to neighboring states where restrictions aren’t as strict.
The shores of Lake Michigan were open in Whiting, Indiana over the weekend, and crowds of people enjoyed a respite from the unseasonably warm conditions that the area was experiencing.
In other nearby states, there were similar gatherings, including in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Videos from both locations went viral over the holiday weekend, as people were lined up outside of bars and restaurants, with very few individuals wearing protective face coverings.
“This is the most people I’ve seen in a couple of months,” one Illinois resident said. “Illinois is still under lockdown and it’s so different to see everyone without masks.”
The travel across the state line is just one of many ways that Illinois residents are voicing their frustration with the state’s ongoing stay-at-home order. In Chicago Monday, a group of protesters gathered near Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park to hold a rally. Eventually Chicago police broke up the demonstration.
In other parts of the city, residents headed outdoors to enjoy the weather, with many taking walks and enjoying an afternoon in parks across the city.
“The only thing we are missing is the beach, but typically the water isn’t great now anyways,” Jimmy Garcia, a Chicago resident, said. “You’re able to be in the park and see everything, and take advantage of the day.”
The state is expected to ease many restrictions as it heads into Phase Three, with a variety of businesses able to open with social distancing procedures and capacity limits in place, later this week. Gatherings of 10 or fewer people will also be allowed, although some restrictions will remain in effect in Chicago until early June, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.