Local businesses gear up for full return: ‘It feels like New Year’s Eve’

Luis Centeno at his gym, Fit Results, 731 S. Plymouth Ct. in the Loop on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

Luis Centeno at his gym, Fit Results, 731 S. Plymouth Ct. in the Loop on Wednesday. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Humboldt Park restaurant owner Zoraida Rivera-Tañón said the reopening couldn’t come at a better time for her struggling business.

Last year, Luis Centeno remembered, he thought a weeklong shutdown of his gym was a good thing if it meant saving lives and mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

“Everyone thought it was going to be just a one-or-three-week lockdown. Then it turned into a month. Then, almost a-year-and-a-half later, and we are just barely coming out of it,” said Centeno, founder of Fit Results.

On Friday, Chicago will end a year of restrictions on crowd size, indoor gatherings and the like caused by a global pandemic which has claimed millions of lives, including nearly 600,000 in the United States.

But reopening doesn’t mean an end of the pandemic or a complete return to normal. Artifacts of a pandemic world will remain, such as mask-wearing in certain settings, hand sanitizer pumps at business entrances or clear plastic guards in separating customers from store cashiers. But it will mean people can freely gather en masse.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said moving to unrestricted crowd size should be welcomed as a sign of the sacrifices made to keep people safe. It was time, she said, to rebuild and support the local economy.

“Our city cannot fully bounce back from the pandemic until the cultural, retail and financial engines that power our economy are able to return at full capacity,” Lightfoot said Thursday.

Closing streets to keep businesses open

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The city is taking every opportunity to celebrate the reopening.

On Thursday, it announced the Central City Recovery Roadmap to help revitalize downtown businesses. That includes working with private groups to boost foot traffic with …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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