As Chicago prepares to host its biggest New Year’s Eve fireworks display of all time, city officials are defending a decision to continue the show amid a rapid rise in COVID cases, saying the cadre exterior of the show and other factors will help ensure the safety of residents should they choose to join in the celebrations.
At an OEMC press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr Allison Arwady said officials took all factors into account when planning of the large fireworks display and that they were confident residents could stay safe. while enjoying the show.
âHistorically, we’ve seen people come together over the holidays at some level, regardless of the directions given,â Arwady said. âI’d much rather have people outside than inside if they want to come together, and the idea of ââhaving done what we did to space out some of that makes sense. Having something available to watch on TV at home motivates people (to stay home).
Officials say the 1.5-mile-long display will sync with music at eight different venues along Lake Michigan and the Chicago River starting at midnight, and will air live on TV for those who don’t want to venture out into the cold to celebrate.
Health officials said the celebration’s reach, which spanned over a mile, was a deliberate decision to encourage social distancing between celebrants.
âNot only are the fireworks celebrated outdoors, but there has been a lot of work to spread them out along the river and along the lake, giving people the chance to celebrate in the safest way. possible, âArwady said.
Lightfoot echoed those sentiments, saying city officials would certainly have canceled any large indoor celebrations, but the sprawling outdoor party would be much safer.
âAs it is on the outside and we are pushing people aside, we are confident that we will minimize and mitigate,â she said.
Lightfoot urged visitors to “follow public health advice” when attending the celebration in the city, and Arwady urged residents to wear masks and socially distance themselves where possible.
A free train service on the CTA and Metra will be available between 10 p.m. on Friday and 4 a.m. on Saturday to help revelers return home safely. Pace will also offer free bus service to the suburbs, officials said.
Masks are mandatory on all trains and buses under current federal mandates.