Chicago mayor debates shutting down parks amid stay-at-home order; police threaten arrest

CHICAGO -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday, March 25 that the sight of crowds along Lake Michigan despite a statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus had her considering shutting down the city’s parks.

“When we have masses of people out there as I just’s a problem,” Lightfoot said. “We know what happens when we don’t social distance.”′

Experts have urged people to keep their distance from each other and signs were put up in establishments ranging from post offices to markets reminding the public to do so.

Stay-at-home orders around the country allow people to go outside, but they do not allow people to gather in large groups. Lightfoot said it appears that the large “packs” of people she saw along the lakefront are, in effect, doing just that.

Chicago’s interim police superintendent, Charlie Beck, on Wednesday said his officers will issue one warning to people violating state and city orders and then issue citations to people who don’t comply.

“If you violate it, you are subject to a citation, a fine of up to $500 and if you continue to violate it, you will be subject to physical arrest,” Beck said.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Illinois' stay-at-home order, set to last through the end of April 7, 2020.