Navy Pier Partially Reopens, But Bars, Lakefront Still Closed

One of the state’s top tourist attractions has been closed to visitors throughout the coronavirus pandemic. That changes Wednesday, even as other popular Chicago destinations remain closed — including the lakefront.

On the eve of that reopening: stormy weather. But Navy Pier officials are counting on a sunny forecast ahead. And they’re offering something that’s even more rare in Chicago — free parking — to bring people to the pier for the partial reopening.

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“Phase one is everything outside, so I kind of consider us like a Main Street or a town square,” said Cory Jobe of Navy Pier Inc. “You’ll see a lot of our partners, that have outdoor restaurants, will be open in phase one with us, with outdoor seating, our Polk Brothers parks, all of our lawns, the South Dock, the North Dock — because we do get some fishermen and we do get a lot of runners.”

Interactive: More from our series, COVID-19 Across Chicago.

The pier’s iconic Ferris wheel and other rides won’t be open until the next phase. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Children’s Museum will also remain closed indefinitely. 

Jobe says the pier put a safety plan in place and will have social distancing ambassadors, masks for sale at kiosks, and hand-sanitizing stations.

Still, the move has caused rumblings. 

Why open the pier, when the lakefront path is still closed? 

And the Lincoln Park Zoo?

Bars, taverns and breweries are also miffed, because they can’t open unless they serve food. 

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

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