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With Chicago beaches closed, Gary mayor wary of Memorial Day visitors
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With Chicago beaches closed, Gary mayor wary of Memorial Day visitors

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Marquette Park

Marquette Beach in Gary.

GARY — The city's beaches, houses of worship, businesses and even some aspects of City Hall are reopening, starting this Memorial Day weekend, according to a Friday update from Mayor Jerome Prince. 

Prince said he worries Gary's beaches will have exceptionally large crowds due to the anticipation that residents in neighboring Illinois will venture to Indiana this holiday weekend.

Many outdoor activities in Illinois remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions as cases continue to rise.  

"This will increase our exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Please be absolutely vigilant in using social distancing, especially this long, holiday weekend," Prince said Friday. "We cannot stop people from visiting our beaches, but, as Gary residents, we can be smart about how we interact with each other."

Prince asked Gary residents to continue adhering to the city shutdown rules and CDC guidelines: 

• If you are 65 years old or older, please continue to stay home as much as possible.

• If you have serious health conditions, including diabetes, lung disease or anything that might compromise your immune system, you are still in jeopardy of contracting COVID-19. You also should stay home as much as possible.

• Everyone older than the age of 2 should continue to wear masks in public.

• If you are having a family picnic or get-together for the holiday weekend, please do not have more than 25 guests at a time.

Houses of worship

Prince said the city will ease restrictions on houses of worship beginning Sunday.

"That does not mean the virus is no longer a public health threat. I strongly recommend faith leaders continue to offer online services," he said.

The city is limiting in-person services to no more than 100 people at a time, and people must maintain social distancing of 6 feet.

He said churches may hold baptisms, weddings, funerals and other important ceremonies with a 25-person limit.

Local businesses

Beginning Sunday, the city is allowing some local businesses to reopen at 25% of normal, legal occupancy limit.

"You must post that occupancy on all entrances to your business and registers or other points-of-sale. If you have a business with customer traffic, such as a dining room or a retail shopping area, you may reopen your business with up to 25% of your legal occupancy at one time," Prince said. 

Barber shops, salon and other personal service business can reopen by appointment only and remain at a 25% occupancy limit at all times.

Bars with food service may reopen according to these terms, but bars, nightclubs that do not serve food and adult entertainment business cannot yet reopen, Prince warned. 

City operations

City department heads and managers are expected to return to the office on Wednesday. All other employees will return on June 1. Some may work with staggered schedules, he said.

Gallery: Popular events canceled or postponed this year 

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North Lake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from UIS. Contact her at lauren.cross@nwi.com or 219-933-3206.

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