coronavirus illinois

Why Chicago Isn't Opening Its Beaches and Pools Just Yet

As of now, there is no set date when beaches and pools will open

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With Chicago's summer heat in full force, the city's popular beaches and pools, a typical destination for keeping cool, remain closed and there's no sign they'll be reopening any time soon.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday explained why.

Though other states opened beaches and pools recently, Lightfoot explained that "they are ripe for congregate gathering and not social distancing."

"Given where we are, which is progress, but we have some concerns," Lightfoot said. "We're not going to take any steps that could really tip us over or tip us backwards."

The mayor said she is mindful that Chicago is expected to see several days of 90 degree heat this week, but beaches and swimming pools will remain closed.

On average, Chicago sees 16 days where the temperature exceeds 90 degrees in an entire year, but the city has already seen 13 days above that threshold, according to the National Weather Service.

On June 22, the city announced that it would move forward into Phase Four of its reopening plan amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but beaches and playgrounds are not among the locations that will be allowed to reopen at this time.

Chicago officials has previously announced they will monitor metrics as the Lakefront opens. Originally, the Fourth of July marked when Chicago would reevaluate metrics for reopening beaches, but Lightfoot said the public must continue to wait.

Under Phase Four of Illinois’ phased reopening plan, gatherings of 50 or fewer people are allowed, but city officials are still having conversations about the safest way to potentially allow waterfront recreation, or for children to begin to use playground equipment.  

City officials did say that Phase Four regulations are “not static,” meaning that some places could potentially loosen restrictions even without moving into Phase Five of the city plan. Beaches are among those locations that could potentially be impacted.

Without beaches and pools, Chicagoans have been searching for other ways to remain cool amid persistent heat.

Chicago officials said the city's "extreme heat plan" will be activated when the National Weather Service forecasts a heat index in excess of 105 to 110 degrees for at least two consecutive days.

If the plan is activated, the city will provide cooling centers, cooling buses, well-being checks and more, officials said.

"We're going to be opening up the splash pools in the parks so that adults and children can get some relief," Lightfoot said.

As of now, there is no set date as to when beaches and pools will reopen throughout the city.

As the state experiences extreme heat this July, the Illinois Department of Transportation warned those on the road to be wary of pavement buckling.

When high temperatures stay in the area for long periods of time, the road can expand and then buckle up or blow out, resulting in uneven surfaces, according to IDOT. Precipitation and humidity are reported to increase the potential for buckling.

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