By Mugo Odigwe

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s been a long time coming; Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier is beginning to reopen. The Pier was closed for months due to COVID concerns.

Navy Pier started welcoming back visitors at 10 a.m. on Friday. At this point, only outdoor venues are open, with all indoor spaces and retail stores still closed, including the Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

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Friday’s reopening is another sign that we’re inching closer to normal.

Even though there were no big crowds at the Pier on Friday morning, that’s likely to change, because the phased reopening comes with something for everyone.

A brass band kicked off the fun Friday morning.

“We’re opening outdoor spaces, North and South docks, East End Plaza, Polk Bros Park, and Pier Park – which wasn’t open last year,” said Navy Pier spokesperson Payal Patel.

That means the rides and attractions are coming back, including the Centennial Wheel. Tour boats and cruises, among other outdoor attractions, will also be operating.

If you’re hoping for fireworks, those are back too. Navy Pier will host a special 10-minute display every Saturday night in May at 9 p.m.

“We’re excited to have people come back. The people are what make the Pier very special and bring it to life,” Patel said.

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Friday’s opening is important for Navy Pier for so many reasons. The Pier projected a $20 million loss last year due to the pandemic-driven closure. So being able to serve the community again, hopefully, means more revenue and jobs.

“We’re going to be employing people again. The Pier employs typically 3,000 people across the entire Pier. So getting those people back to work, that’s going to be encouraging and incredibly motivating,” Patel said. “We do need every bit of support and attendance to keep the Pier running and ongoing.”

Navy Pier will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday during this phase.

Guests must wear a face mask at all times while visiting Navy Pier, and try to stay at least six feet away from people who aren’t in their group. There will be the 90+ hand sanitizer dispensers available as well.

Anyone violating the Pier’s COVID rules will be asked to leave. Click here for more information on the reopening of Navy Pier and the restrictions that will be in place.

The reopening comes as Chicago recently loosened its COVID-19 regulations, allowing most businesses to increase capacity limits indoors, including bars and restaurants, where capacity can increase to the lesser of 50 percent or 100 people.

Indoor venues like the United Center and places of worship can operate at 25 percent capacity.

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Meantime, Navy Pier is hoping to be able to reopen its indoor spaces sometime in May, depending on state and city guidance.