UPDATED 02/01/11 10:54 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — With the afternoon rush a potentially dangerous one, some businesses and government offices in Chicago closed early on Tuesday to make sure employees could get home safely and to discourage customers from making unnecessary trips in the blizzard.
The Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium will both be closed Wednesday due to the storm. Also, The Shedd Aquarium will close at 1 p.m. Tuesday and the Field Museum will close at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The Museum of Science and Industry is already closed, and will remain so through Wednesday.
Early voting, which began on Monday, will be called off Wednesday due to the snowstorm. All polling locations will be closed.
The Dirksen U.S. Courthouse at 219 S. Dearborn St. will close early on Tuesday, at 3 p.m. A skeleton crew will stay in the clerk’s office until closing to allow for filing of court documents. The courthouse will remain closed on Wednesday and electronic filing will be available.
The Circuit Court of Cook County also will be closed on Wednesday. All court cases scheduled for Feb. 2 will be rescheduled.
The Post Office will still deliver mail on Wednesday.
All Cook County Health system clinics will be closed Wednesday. Patients with appointments should call to reschedule.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, at Manny’s Coffee Shop and Deli, 1141 S. Jefferson St., owner Dan Raskin put up a sign announcing the restaurant was closing at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Back in 1999, when a snowstorm dumped 21.6 inches of snow on the city, Raskin says he remembers helping his father at the deli, and he had to turn his car around because of the conditions. Now, Raskin wants to avoid a dangerous situation for his own workers.
“We just want to make sure they get home and safe, and just having a little business is not worth someone not being safe,” Raskin said.
Columbia College has canceled all classes after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. DePaul University has canceled all classes after 1 p.m. Tuesday and all Wednesday classes at city and suburban campuses. All buildings will close at 3 p.m. Tuesday, with employees dismissed at 3 p.m. All scheduled events at DePaul for Tuesday evening and Wednesday have been canceled.
Roosevelt University in Chicago has canceled all classes from 1 p.m. Tuesday through noon Wednesday.
Indiana University Northwest campuses in Hammond and Portage will close at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and will be closed all day Wednesday.
Several other businesses are also closing early. For example, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov says Flirty Girl Fitness, a women’s gym at 1325 W. Randolph St., will be closing early and canceling its class schedule at 2 p.m.
Steppenwolf Theatre has canceled Tuesday night’s performances of “Sex with Strangers” and the Tuesday and Wednesday night performacnes of “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?”
Chicagoist reports the restaurants Graham Elliot, 217 W. Huron St., Grahamwich, 615 N. State St., will also be closed Tuesday night and Wednesday.
On the flipside, a manager at the Harris Bank branch in the Loop said because the bank shuts down at 5 p.m. and his employees all take the train, he plans to keep business as usual Tuesday.
But the manager said on Wednesday, he will be much more flexible. He said he has some employees who live in the northern suburbs, and he said depending on how severe the snowfall is there, he might let them stay home.
Meanwhile, several restaurants and other businesses offering perks to Chicagoans trying to escape the snow. Chicagoist reports Falafill, 3202 N. Broadway, is offering a free bowl of lentil soup with sandwich or salad bowl orders, while Witts, 2913 N. Lincoln Ave., is offering snow-weary Chicagoans a free cup of yellow split pea soup with lardons, carrots and truffle oil, and a Winter Storm ’11 shot.
Landmark, 1633 N. Halsted St., and Perennial, 1800 N. Lincoln Ave., are offering 25 percent discounts on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Boka, 1729 N. Halsted St., is offering the discount on Wednesday only, Chicagoist reported.
Some people walking downtown said they believe the most important mission Tuesday is to get home safely, but some people were staying in hotels downtown to make sure they’d be able to get to work on Wednesday.
As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, Martin Jimenez is one of a half dozen Burnham Hotel employees who’s staying at the hotel Tuesday night. He said he doesn’t want the blizzard to stop him from making his 7 a.m. shift.
“Even if I’m not here, the guests are still here, so I’ve gotta to make sure I’m here regardless,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez will be joined by housekeepers and kitchen workers who will also spend the night to make sure the guests are served. Many of those guests are downtown workers who need to report to their jobs.
“We have some who are from the Daley Center, from City Hall, local businesses, the banks,” hotel manager Duncan Clements said.
Hotels around the Chicago area have been filling up with workers who must report to their shifts, like Metra employees.
Metra conductors and engineers will be put up at hotels close to their assigned stations, but some maintenance crews will actually stay at Metra facilities.
“They are the ones who need to repair the engines, so yes, they have some cots available in some of the maintenance facility yards so they can get the needed rest and still be right there to go right back to the job,” Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.
Hospitals like Northwestern Memorial Hospital also were making plans to house nurses and other critical workers to make sure they’re available to serve the public.
Bus drivers have been working overtime or coming in early to make sure they’re on the job
Even librarians are expected to make it in to work on Wednesday, because the city’s 77 library branches also serve as warming centers and will be open.
“I have a car and I’m just going to have leave early and do my best to get here on time,” librarian Joanne Willis said.
(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)