'After A Lot Of Consultation And A Lot Of Prayer': Mayor Lightfoot Announces Chicago To Still Move To Phase 3 Wednesday

Mayor Lori Lightfoot provides update following weekend unrest.
Photo credit City of Chicago

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Mayor Lightfoot joined CPD and CDPH on Tuesday morning to provide an update to the city after numerous days of protest, following the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Along with the update, the Mayor reaffirmed that Chicago will transition to Phase Three of the “Protecting Chicago” framework and will begin cautiously reopening on Wednesday, June 3.

"This past evening, we saw a continuation of events over the past few days; however, at a decreased level. I want to thank our many, many public safety officers and city employees, who have been working around the clock for days now to support our residents and communities, and keep our businesses secure. I want to give a special mention to the men and women of our Department of Streets and Sanitation and Department of Buildings, who are still out in our neighborhoods, along corridors, boarding up businesses that have asked for help."

According to the Mayor, the two departments have secure over 175 buildings - commercial corridors on North Avenue on the West Side, Madison and Pulaski commercial corridor, 95th Street, Stony Island, 47th Street, 59th and Wentworth, Ashland, Cottage Grove Corridor, 87th Street, and 83rd and Kedzie.

"This list will only grow longer," she said. 

Lightfoot also commended the efforts of local aldermen, "who have all been out at all hours in their wards assessing the damage, organizing volunteers, helping their business people, and really being what we would expect - true public servants at a time of need in their communities."

She shared some of the things she has witnessed over the last couple days.

"Yesterday, I visited a number of neighborhoods throughout our South and West sides that have been impacted by the damage over these last few days. Just as you heard, seeing all this loss around you, these are businesses that have been gearing up to open tomorrow, but were instead cleaning up debris, sweeping broken glass, and trying to tally the inventory that had been stolen from then, and also, of course, contacting insurance companies," Lightfoot said. "It was hard to see, hard to take in, painful because the expressions of frustration, and anger, and hurt at life's work and savings disappearing in such a callous manner was hard for many of these folks to take in. A lot of tears were shed.

"One business owner did burst into tears saying how much her business means to her, and I had to tell her, because I think we both wanted to embrace, but we just touched each other's arms and tried to be there as a support for her in this incredibly painful moment. She just broke down looking at the devastation that had happened in her business. But as hard as all of that was, and it was, I also saw people in communities who care deeply about each other and everyone in their neighborhoods.

"I was down on the Far South Side at a strip mall where there was a Jewel, and Alderman Mitchell had done an all-call to people in his community - they had been out there to ward off the looters, and were successful in some ways, but not successful in others; but they were there yesterday and had been there from the early morning to help the workers in that Jewel clean up, board up, and start to restock the shelves, so that they could be open and available for people in that neighborhood. And I saw scenes like that, with people in communities stepping up and reclaiming the territory, reclaiming the geography in their neighborhoods.

"And as hard as seeing all of that was, seeing moments like that, and that was repeated all over the city, that gives you hope. Block by block, what I saw, that even amongst the damage, there was a sense of pride in work and communities and families...What I saw yesterday was also the power in the bond that truly exemplifies what it means to be a neighbor, particularly in this time of need. That was a humbling experience to bare witness to the resolve in a simple notion shown in these incredible passionate gestures that I saw all over the city," Lightfoot said.

The Mayor said after a lot of conversation with people on the ground, whose lives have been shattered, and after consulting with businesses, aldermen, other elected officials, "everywhere I went, I asked the question: Should we open? Or should we delay? And to universal acclaim, emphatically what I heard from people was, 'Mayor, we have to step forward. We have to open.' Even those businesses that might not be able to open tomorrow, those owners told me 'Mayor, we have been preparing, our workers are ready, we need to see our customers. They need to see us being resilient and recovering, even in the faces of all the losses over 10 weeks, and particularly the devastating losses over these last couple days.'

"So I want to tell the city now, after a lot of consultation, and yes, a lot of prayer we will reopen tomorrow and take this important next step as planned."

According to the Mayor, that means numerous businesses and public spaces will be reopening Wednesday with limited capacity - including personal services and retail stores, as well as restaurants and coffee shops, with a focus on outdoor space. City of Chicago services that had been closed to the public including parks, facilities and libraries will begin reopening on Monday, June 8. 

"In light of the events over the past few days, we will continue the work that we have been doing directly with local chambers of commerce and business service organizations to assist and secure the reopening process, particularly for the impacted businesses," Lightfoot said. "These efforts include increased and continued support for our neighborhood business development centers, because they can provide the technical assistance to help people get through this difficult time, as well as partnering with these groups to provide volunteers, insurance information, and financial relief options. We'll also help our small businesses connect with our PPE, the personal protective equipment marketplace that we set up way before the events of the last few days. We want to make sure that those businesses are able to take advantage of this resource, in partnership with our local startup, Reaply. And as a reminder to everyone, as well, we will also still be moving forward with our open streets plan to help our small businesses, particularly our neighborhood restaurants, have the extra space they need to safely welcome back customers and get their businesses back on track."

Businesses seeking information can visit the city's website. 311 is also standing by to direct businesses to help. 

"As part of this effort, we created a direct line of communication between city officials and neighborhood chambers," Lightfoot said. "Businesses shouldn't hesitate to call 311 or contact their local chamber with requests for support, whether it's board up, whether it's clean up, or anything else that you need, we stand at the ready, and you don't have to wait to reach out. I want every business in Chicago to hear me when I say we are 110 percent dedicated to you successfully reopening safely and securing and getting back up on your feet. We want economic activity to resume peacefully and safely in every single neighborhood, especially, especially, in those hurting the most. I heard that over and over again, in neighborhoods that have been hard hit for years that they need a lifeline, and they need it now, and we need to be there for them.

"I want to encourage our customers to shop locally, to support those local businesses. That is going to be crucial, critically important for them to be able to survive. We want economic activity to resume peacefully in every neighborhood and we are doing everything we can to ensure that happens, but doing it again, safely and securely."

Businesses or organizations with specific questions as they relate to their reopening in Chicago should reach out to 3-1-1. BACP will continue hosting a series of webinars to prepare Chicago's businesses for reopening under phase three of the “Protecting Chicago” framework.

To allow businesses and organizations to prepare for the reopening, Mayor Lightfoot, in partnership with CDPH, industry leaders, labor leaders, and public officials from around Chicago, on May 26 released industry-specific guidelines for businesses, employees, and customers to follow as they begin to safely reopen on June 3. Specific guidelines are currently available for childcare, commercial buildings, residential buildings, hotels and accommodations, food service, retail, personal services, health and fitness clubs, manufacturing, construction, warehousing, healthcare, CTA, taxi and ride hail, and parks and outdoor attractions.  Specific guidelines for sporting events, religious services, outdoor performances, summer programs and youth activities, the Lakefront, and museums will be available later in phase three when those entities are predicted to begin reopening.

“Chicago’s ready to take the next step in safely reopening, and not a moment too soon,” Lightfoot said. “We need our businesses up and running, and our employees back at work. Not just for their sake or for the life of our local economies, but for the sense of community they bring, and the familiar, friendly faces that make up our daily lives. This transition stands as a key moment in our city's long road forward toward recovery and growth, as well as healing and hope.”

Mayor Lightfoot said as the city moves forward it will continue its recovery efforts for the businesses that were looted. This will include continued police presence at grocery stores and pharmacies "that are vital to their local communities to allow them to restock and rebuild." The city is working diligently with CVS and Walgreens, Lightfoot said. 

"We have told them, even in this difficult time when your stores have been hit, we need you in our communities to be there," Lightfoot said. "And we are excited about the efforts of Senator Duckworth to push both of these businesses to provide alternative to customers who need those vital medicines, who need diapers and formula, so that we can provide alternatives while these businesses are on the mend and recover."

The Mayor said the city will be announcing more on that soon.

The city will also be directly engaging with insurers to push claims to be paid now, "no red tape, no bureaucracy. Get your agents out in these neighborhoods and start cutting checks. These businesses desperately need the monies to which they are entitled," Lightfoot said.

The city is also in the process of creating a relief fund to "supplement and support our small businesses." Specifics about that will be announced "as soon as we can."

"As we proceed to Phase Three tomorrow, I want to level set with everyone about the caution with what we must proceed. And there is a reason why we've called this phase, even before the events of the last few days, 'cautiously reopening' and why we branded this next phase as 'Be Safe, Chicago.' As you will hear from Dr. Arwady, the threat from COVID-19 is very much still with us, and we must maintain all of the public health guidance that got us to this point. I know we've seen a lot of people gathering in the streets all around the city, some in peacefully protest, others in other forms, but whether you were out there for legitimate and righteous reasons, or for some others, you have put yourself at risk. That risk is real, it is present and it will be with us for the foreseeable future. You need to take the precautions, not just to protect yourself, but for others in your network, in your home that you care about, because now you are at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection."

The Mayor said social distancing and hand washing, staying home if you have COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, wearing a face mask in public is "critically important."

"We have to be cautious. We have to be careful. And that means you have to be cautious, have to be careful. Let me also say this: I know that there's a lot of trauma in our city. It existed before any of the events of the last 10 weeks. It's been heightened with COVID-19, and even moreso with what we've seen with the devastation in neighborhoods. That trauma's real. It is present. And I want to make sure people are taking advantage of the resources for free that exist all over the city. I also want to speak to our young people and tell them that we hear you, and we see you. And I know you are concerned and hurt and angry and traumatized, as well. But what I would ask of you in particular, is sometimes we adults lose our heads, sometimes we say things that we should not, be our example in the way you are with each other, in the way in which you are thinking about how you process the hurt and the fear that you're experiencing. Be the leaders for us and stand up.

"I say this all the time, our children our watching. I hope they are seeing us stand up and stand tall in this moment, because we need to be there for them, even more now. We will not let you down. We will be here for you and we will support you even in this difficult and scary time," Lightfoot said. 

"And I want to say to our city, the expressions of good will that you all have been engaged in in every neighborhood, even in this time of your deepest fears, hang on to that feeling, because that is what will propel us forward, that is what will get us through this difficult time. We will be able to heal and recover from this trauma, as we have throughout our history. It may not seem like morning is coming for this dark haze, but it is. And there's glimmers of lights that we know exist everywhere in our city, in every neighborhood, in every race, color, and creed, please hang on to those moments. They are precious. They are needed now more than ever. Support each other. Check on your neighbors. Make sure your family is safe. Be kind to each other, we need that now more than ever."