Lightfoot says Chicago’s reopening to go on despite unrest

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that the city will proceed this week with its next stage of reopening after coronavirus stay-at-home orders, despite days of unrest and violence.

Vandalism and violent clashes have followed peaceful protests citywide after George Floyd’s death. Numerous businesses, already suffering from pandemic-related closures, were vandalized in recent days. City crews helped secure 175 buildings, many in neighborhood commercial corridors, Lightfoot said Tuesday.

But she said the “overwhelming” response from business owners was that they wanted to reopen Wednesday when the next phase of Chicago’s gradual reopening plan was set to start.

“After a lot of consultation, and yes, a lot of prayer, we will reopen … and take this important next step as planned,” she said.

Public health officials said Chicago’s rate of COVID-19 infections has been declining, key to the gradual reopening plan.

Starting Wednesday, more businesses and city services can reopen with restrictions, including limited capacity. Restaurants will be limited to outdoor dining with the city closing some streets for additional dining space. Offices have to close high-traffic common areas and space out work stations.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,614 new cases of COVID-19 and 113 deaths.