Chicago cancels Independence Day celebrations to prevent spread of COVID-19

Source: Xinhua| 2020-07-05 02:42:29|Editor: huaxia

CHICAGO, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Chicago is a little quiet during this year's Independence Day holiday as the local government has cancelled the fireworks displays at Navy Pier and most of the surrounding suburbs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With some 40 states in the United States reporting resurgence of COVID-19 cases, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have no plans to reverse the reopening course after lifting some restrictions statewide last week. But they are determined to implement the reopening with restrictions more strictly.

Lightfoot sent a message on Thursday, ahead of the long Independence Day weekend, warning that if bars and restaurants let crowds of maskless patrons pack in violation of occupancy and face covering rules, "I will shut you down and if you're shut down, you're not coming back anytime soon."

Under the rules in Chicago, patrons must be seated, and indoor capacity is limited to 25 percent, or 50 people, whichever is fewer.

Lightfoot has also ordered people coming to Chicago from 15 states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases to practice self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering the city beginning next week.

The order was announced on Thursday and will go into effect on Monday. The 15 high-risk U.S. states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Nevertheless, Chicago health officials said Friday they have no plan for enforcing the city's quarantine order, but will rely largely on signs posted along highways and at the two airports in Chicago. But violations could bring fines from 100 U.S. dollars to 500 dollars a day.

Statewide, Illinois Governor Pritzker and the state's top health official are also urging restaurants and bars and their customers to follow safety guidelines.

"The virus is not taking the holiday weekend off, and neither can we. Letting our guard down now would fly in the face of the progress we've made over many months," Pritzker said in a statement on Friday. "We have seen those mitigation measures have worked in our state."

Those measures include wearing masks in public, maintaining proper social distancing and abiding by capacity limits in restaurants, bars and other businesses.

The Illinois State Police is working with local authorities on enforcement measures, including warnings, fines and potential suspension or revocation of licenses.

A day before Pritzker made the statement, a southern Illinois judge ruled that Pritzker's executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 are void.

As of Friday, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state of Illinois reached 145,750, with 7,005 deaths. Enditem