Chicago reopens businesses amid pandemic, protests

Chicago reopened its businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent protests triggered by the death of a black man in police brutality.

The reopening on Wednesday came with a dual meaning: the third largest city in the US has lifted the “stay-at-home” order which has practiced for more than two months; and has removed the lockdown of downtown Chicago imposed as a result of the looting and unrest due to the protests, reports Xinhua news agency.

In the downtown area, many retailers are cleaning shattered windows and dealing with empty shelves.

The bridges over Chicago River, which were lifted up to block looting and vandalism during the unrest, will be lowered.

The blockades at ramps of expressways to downtown Chicago were also removed.

Reduced bus and train services from and to downtown due to unrest returned to normalcy.

But the curfew remains in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., as the protests may continue and the COVID-19 threat still looms, local media reported.

With reopening, local restaurants can handle outdoor dining; retail shops can receive customers; personal services businesses such as salons and barbershops can open up; and other businesses such as hotels can start to operate.

But all the businesses are subject to reduced capacities and tight rules designed to stop COVID-19 from spreading.

Chicago would set up a $10 million fund to help businesses looted in recent days, the city’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference on Tuesday.

As to how much Chicago can reopen, the conditions vary by neighbourhoods.

To prevent COVID-19 from spreading, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued the “stay-at-home” order which initially went into effect on March 21, and renewed it on April 23.

Chicago, located in the northeastern part of Illinois, observed the order simultaneously.

To make it worse, the protests in Chicago, following George Floyd’s death on May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was captured on video pinning Floyd down by his neck for about eight minutes, turned violent on May 30, triggering Lightfoot to lock down the downtown area the next day.