CHICAGO – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is threatening residents with citation and arrest if they go on long runs or bike rides in the city’s latest effort to crack down over the spread of coronavirus.
Lightfoot, during remarks Wednesday, reportedly urged residents to “stay at home” and “only go out for essentials” —rules put in place by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week.
Nevertheless, the mayor took the order a step further.
“Be smart,” Lightfoot said Wednesday, according to CBS Chicago. “Not only will our police be deployed to shut them down if you are not abiding by these orders, we will be forced to shut down the parks and lakefront.”
Lightfoot went on to announce that spending long periods of time outside or in playgrounds is not allowed.
“You cannot go on long bike rides. Playgrounds are shut down,” she said. “You must abide by the order. Outside is for a brief respite, not for 5Ks.”
She added: “I can’t emphasize enough that we abide [by] the rules.”
Her admonition was issued even though city parks in Chicago remain open, according to officials, with the caveat that people keep their distance from others.
“This is an order that’s enforceable by law,” she reportedly said. “We’re going to give you an admonition. And if you don’t turn right away and head home then you’re going to get a citation. And if worse, yeah, we will take you into custody.”
She added: “I hope that it doesn’t come to that, I hope that I don’t have to shut down the lake front, shut down all the parks, but I will.”
According to the Chicago Police Department, violations are punishable by a fine of $500 and potentially arrest.
An accompanying press release, though, did not appear to place restrictions on the extent of outdoor exercise that Chicagoans are able to engage in, aside from telling people to keep their distance from others.
The press release from Lightfoot’s office said people of Chicago are are still able, and encouraged, to do the following during this time:
- Go for a walk or run but maintain physical distance from others while doing so.
- Walk their dog, but not congregate at the dog park or beach.
- Visit one of the City’s public parks and outdoor recreation areas that remain open for use during regular operating hours but avoid clustering in groups.
- Shop at the grocery stores that remain open, as long as you are not sick, and practice social distancing.
- Continue visiting the restaurants that remain open for pick-up and delivery.
Chicago’s measures come as a number of states across the nation issued similar “stay at home” orders.
Pritzker, last Friday, announced Illinois’ own version of a “shelter-in-place” order, which began over the weekend and is expected to continue at least through April 7.
Pritzker’s order came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont issued similar orders, which closed non-essential businesses and urged residents to work from home unless they are an essential worker.
In New York, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., Gov. Andrew Cuomo made exceptions for media, health care providers and financial institutions, among others, were made as well, with workers falling into the category of “essential workers.”
The statewide orders urge people to practice social distancing and only leave their homes for necessities such as groceries, picking up medications and seeking medical attention.
And in New Jersey, Murphy banned birthday parties and funerals, Fox News reported.
COVID-19 was designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization earlier this month.
As of Thursday morning, the U.S. reported more than 69,100 positive cases of COVID-19. Late Wednesday night, the death toll in the country exceeded 1,000.