Evanston beaches open for swimming with limited capacity, social distancing


Catherine Buchaenic / Daily Senior Staffer

Students and Evanston residents walk on the beach near the Segal Visitors Center. Evanston beaches opened for swimming July 1.

Hannah Feuer, Reporter

Evanston beaches opened for swimming July 1 with new restrictions in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Beaches are limited to 50 percent of capacity to accommodate social distancing guidelines, and beachgoers are required to wear a mask upon entering the area. Once set up near the shore, patrons are permitted to remove their masks as long as they maintain a distance of six feet.

Beach employees physically count patrons at entrances to make sure the beaches don’t exceed capacity. Lawrence Hemingway, the director of parks, recreation and community services, said maintaining capacity restrictions has been the biggest challenge.

“Since we’ve opened and allowed people into the water, it’s been extremely hot,” Hemingway said. “Every day it’s been over 90 degrees, so the beaches have been really popular.”

Just down the shore, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicago beaches would not open “any time soon,” citing concerns of overcrowding.

Other changes in Evanston compared to previous summers include a lack of concessions and drinking fountains at the beaches. The city is also asking those who are sick or live with a vulnerable family member to stay home.

Children age two or under and those who cannot wear a face covering for medical reasons are exempt from the mask requirement upon entrance.

Skokie resident Renee Rendler-Kaplan said she goes to Lighthouse Beach early in the morning to avoid “as many people as possible.” She was there on opening day and said people complied with the City’s new requirements.

“People were really good about wearing masks in and out as you’re supposed to,” Rendler-Kaplan said. “Some people wore them even sitting at the shoreline and walking into the water.”

Communication sophomore Joyce Pu is avoiding the beach even with the city’s precautions. She considered walking on the beach at night, but ultimately decided against it when she saw crowds of people not wearing masks.

“From what I’ve seen, people are just basically sitting right next to each other. It’s definitely not six feet,” Pu said. “Maybe at nighttime, but when it’s sunny in the afternoon, it just seems like a normal beach.”

Evanston beaches will continue to be open for swimming through September 7.

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Twitter: @hannah_feuer

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