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All Large Summer Events Should Be Canceled, Pritzker Says Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Major festivals including Lollapalooza, Riot Fest and Pitchfork have been mum on their plans.

Lollapalooza in 2017.
DNAinfo Chicago
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CHICAGO — All summer events and large gatherings should be canceled, Gov. JB Pritzker advised Thursday.

The governor, speaking at a briefing on coronavirus, said everyone “needs to think seriously” about canceling large summer events like festivals and concerts to protect people during the pandemic.

Though Illinois is expected to hit its peak of cases in mid- to late April, the state — and Chicago, which has been a hot spot for coronavirus — will still see people getting sick and dying from COVID-19 for months after that.

“From my perspective today, I don’t see how we’re going to have large gatherings of people, again, until we have a vaccine, which is months and months away. I would not risk having large groups of people getting together anywhere,” Pritzker said. “And I think that’s hard for everybody to hear, but that’s just a fact.

“Even with testing and tracing and treating as is necessary for us to begin to make changes, it isn’t enough for me to say that it’s OK to have a big festival with a whole bunch of people gathering together.”

Pritzker said it’s also “unlikely” the state will be able to lift the stay at home order before April 30. The order went into effect March 21 and was supposed to end April 7 but has been extended through April, with more extensions possible.

“I am worried about people throwing caution to the wind and seeing a nice day outside and thinking that they’re not in danger,” Pritzker said. “Everybody needs to know that, if we are improving — and it’s still up in the air — but if we are improving here in the state, it is because people are staying at home. … If you go out, you have some propensity to infect other people, and we need you to stay at home. … The curve is still upward trajectory. Just because we’re bending the curve does not mean it’s bending down yet.

“And, indeed, as we approach April 30 we will be thinking about, ‘What are the restrictions or rules that we need to set going forward after April 30?’ Because it isn’t gonna be that all the sudden you’re gonna drop the stay at home and every other restriction, and that’s because there is a propensity that, if you do that, we’re gonna see a big spike upward and once again hospitalizations, ICU beds filled, beds filled and more death.”

Chicago is home to hundreds of music festivals, street fairs and other events that are held throughout the warm summer months. Some groups have preemptively canceled such events or postponed ticket sales because of the pandemic.

But major festivals — including Lollapalooza, Riot Fest and Pitchfork, all of which attract thousands of people — have remained mum on their plans.

Pitchfork is scheduled for July 17-19 in Union Park. Lollapalooza is scheduled for July 30-Aug. 2 at Grant Park. Riot Fest is scheduled for Sept. 11-13 in Douglas Park.

Last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hopes Lollapalooza will still be able to be held, though she said the city would deal with that once the festival was closer.

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