By Meredith Barack

CHICAGO (CBS) — Life in Chicago is getting closer to normal as the city announced big changed in COVID-19 restrictions Thursday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot let Chicagoans know they are now able to visit places like Navy Pier, and they will be able to attend events like Windy City Smokeout. It’s the latest step in the city’s mission to safely reopen.

“Today is a day so many have been waiting for,” Lightfoot said. “Last year our lakefronts and parks were closed. We mourned their loss and our loss.”

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The reopening of a number of destinations, like Navy Pier, comes as capacity increases across the city. Under the new Phase Four regulations, most places in Chicago will have the ability to allow more people inside.

This includes bars and restaurants, where capacity can increase to the lesser of 50% or 100 people. Indoor venues like the United Center and places of worship can operate at 25% capacity. Festivals, outdoor events, and flea markets and farmers markets can operate at 15 people per 1,000 square feet.

As for private events, Lightfoot announced fully vaccinated guests won’t count toward capacity. It’s big news for the wedding industry, as couples with summer wedding plans weren’t sure what their big days might look like.

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“We are busy, busy increasing and changing those plans,” said Susan Cordogan, owner of Big City Bride. “It’s a lot, but we’re happy to do it because now people can invite those they’ve been waiting to invite and celebrate together that we’ve waited so long for.”

Cordogan said while many couples opted to push their summer weddings back, she’s working with 10 couples who are getting married in the next six weeks. 

As they scramble to make changes, she is hopeful it encourages more people to get vaccinated.

“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for,” she said. “This is a huge step. We’re still waiting for the mask free dance floors and all of that, but this is a step in the right direction.”

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The city could be in the bridge phase in as soon as two weeks, which means capacity at most places would increase to 60%. 

Meredith Barack