CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a news conference Wednesday to urge the city to take the statewide stay-at-home order seriously.
Lightfoot was visibly frustrated by reports of people not practicing social distancing at parks and the lakefront.
“We will be forced to shut down our parks and the lakefront if people continue to flout these social distancing guidelines,” Lightfoot said.
Illinois’ stay-at-home order mandates people not leave their homes except for essential activities — like food shopping and exercising in their neighborhood.
“Never before in my lifetime has the conduct of others affected the actual health and well-being of others,” Lightfoot said. “‘We are all in it together’ is not just a quaint expression, it has resonance and meaning like no other time.”
Chicago Police Interim Supt. Charlie Beck echoed the mayor’s tone during the news conference.
“The public health orders that have been given by the governor, the mayor and by the Chicago Health Department are not advisory,” Beck said. “They are a legal mandate. And violation of this legal mandate is a misdemeanor.”
Beck also warned of citations, fines and even arrest if people continue to violate the order.
“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 arrest,” said Beck.
Officials said their concerns started last weekend when some residents gathered at parties. Those parties were broken up.
With the promise of warm weather, there’s a fear that people will flood parks and the lakefront as health care workers are trying to keep hospitals below capacity.
“As this virus spreads, we are worried about whether our health care system will be able to handle the influx of patients,” said Dr. Allison Arwady of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
The stay-at-home order is currently set to last through the end of April 7, 2020.