DOWNTOWN — Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Friday all Chicago parks and libraries will be closed starting 5 p.m. Saturday.
The announcement came as Gov. JB Pritzker announced a “stay at home order,” which requires the shutdown of all “non-essential” businesses.
People will still be able to go to parks to walk around and play outside, though they should practice the rule of staying at least 6 feet away from other people. The parks will not be cordoned off, but all the facilities — like field houses — will be closed, Lightfoot said.
Chciago’s public libraries will be closed entirely.
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“For the most part, I think people will have the ability to go out and recreate,” Pritzker said during his announcement. “What we are trying to discourage is people recreating and … getting together. We want people not to get so close together they’re violating this 6-foot rule. We want social distancing.”
Frightened librarians had been demanding the city’s public libraries be closed for days, ProPublica Illinois reported.
Library systems in other large cities — including New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Boston and Cleveland — have closed, as have many libraries in Chicago’s suburbs.
Libraries in Chicago are often frequented by people experiencing homelessness or children out of school, but one South Side librarian told ProPublica earlier this week keeping them open was not fair.
“The mayor is forcing libraries to be the social safety net of the city. … She is relying on us to do what the city is supposed to be doing by providing homeless shelters, mental health institutions, being a day care,” she said. “If it is a snow day, polar vortex, teachers strike, I am the first one to say keep the doors open to the library. This is an exception. This is a health care crisis.”
Park programming had been available to Chicago Public Schools students out of class until April 20, but that programming will cease Saturday per the mayor’s order.
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