Chicago (WLS) -- Chicago will soon reopen access to its lakefront, playgrounds and indoor aquatic programs, as COVID-19 metrics continue to improve across the city, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in an announcement early Tuesday.
The gates blocking Montrose Harbor were actually reopened last Friday so city trucks could dump snow back there, but the gates remained open to the general public.
Chicago Park District crews will now begin opening public access points to parkland east of Lake Shore Drive.
Chicago's lakefront is reopening amid easing COVID restrictions.
Restrictions on parking will also be lifted.
"I remember doing the track before and it was closed, and we couldn't park," runner Guillermo Baca said. "So it's nice to have parking as well and also it speaks to the progress we are making as a city in terms of COVID."
With spring just around the corner, many are getting a little squirrelly.
"It's very exciting for sure, but it's also obviously, like, a little concerning," said Jackie Keller, a runner. "People still have to be safe."
During the upcoming weeks, the park district will also start unlocking gates and prepare more than 500 outdoor playgrounds and nature play spaces for reopening.
The city will also reopen indoor swimming pools to limited programming. Registration for the spring season starts March 8.
The lakefront east of Lake Shore Drive has been officially closed since March 26, 2020, because of pandemic restrictions.
"When we started to make changes to the lakefront, we were in a very different place," Lightfoot said. "I think what we've seen from that time is people understanding the moment that we're in, so it's appropriate."
The lakefront trail reopened in June 2020 for those who kept moving.
This full reopening comes as COVID-19 cases in Chicago continue to drop.
The city is still asking people to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including social distancing and mask wearing.
The new announcement is being welcomed by many itching to get back to normal.
"I think it's OK because everyone is being responsible," runner Suraj Suresh said. "I have not seen anyone without the mask. People are socially distancing."
The Chicago Park District superintendent said they will work to reopen as soon as possible.
More information is available at chicagoparkdistrict.com.