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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she expects ‘to see some summer festivals’ this year
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she expects ‘to see some summer festivals’ this year

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Air and Water Show - File photo

People walk to take shelter from an oncoming rainstorm during the Air and Water Show at North Avenue Beach Aug. 17, 2019, in Chicago.

Despite a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Lori Lightfoot again said on Wednesday that she expects to see a more normal summer in Chicago this year than what the city experienced in 2020, including the possibility of summer festivals.

“I expect to see some summer festivals. Yes, planning is underway. As you might imagine, logistics, booking, ticketing takes a lot of advanced lead time,” Lightfoot said. “We’re not ready to announce those plans yet, but I expect that as I’ve said many times, summer of 2021 will look more like 2019 and less like 2020.”

But, the mayor warned, “a lot of it’s going to depend on where we are in the arc of this virus.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks Monday about his hope that Illinois could overcome another surge in COVID-19 cases with its increased number of vaccinations.

Chicago’s average daily case rate has risen above 600 per day, sparking concern from city leaders and residents. Public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady previously said an increase over 400 would be cause for alarm.

At the same time, Lightfoot has expressed reluctance to shut down more businesses or events due to the economic toll but has said she would do so if COVID-19 metrics worsen. Last fall, Lightfoot repeatedly warned about rising cases but criticized Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decision to shut down indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

Chicago Air and Water Show - File

Spectators gather at North Avenue Beach to watch the Chicago Air and Water Show in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on Aug. 18, 2019.

It’s not clear how bad the metrics would have to get for Pritzker or Lightfoot to again take drastic action.

The current state rules allow outdoor festivals to be held with capacity limited to 15 people per 1,000 square feet of space.

Under the “bridge phase” of Pritzker’s reopening plan, which would begin once COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations show a sustained decline from their current level, that limit would double.

All limits would be lifted once the state enters the final phase of Pritzker’s reopening plan, which requires 50% of residents 16 and older to have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The state first must also see stable or declining cases, hospitalizations and other measures of virus transmission for 28 days during the bridge phase.

The Tribune’s Dan Petrella contributed.

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