Chicago charter boats reiterate safety procedures after photos of unmasked passengers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's summer charter boating season is off to a slow start due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and new safety guidance is in place.

Navy Pier and the harbors, but social distancing is required on the piers and boats, and face masks are mandatory when not eating or drinking.

"What comes first and foremost is the safety of our guests and crew, so we want to start slow and make sure that we can operate within the safety parameters that are now in place," said Dan Russell, vice president of the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee.

The Anita Dee 2 went out for the first time during the pandemic last week. There is spacing on the upper deck and new limits on the popular top deck and throughout the boat. Despite the 400-person capacity, Chief Operating Officer Marc Barrile said only 100 people are allowed on board.

"Every employee, every guest of ours, it's extremely important we give them a safe environment," Barrile said.

A lakefront neighborhood took photos Saturday evening of the Anita Dee 2. He shared concerns about safe social distancing and the lack of masks on board.

"I was basically stunned because it was filled with people that were not masked," John Baldwin said.

"I think the optics of the picture doesn't show the depth of the yacht and show that people are seated six feet away from each other, and standing six feet away," Barrile said.

Barrile explained passengers are not required to wear masks when eating and drinking, but emphasized that as passengers move around they are asked to put their masks back on.

"They might forget and crew is definitely responsible for politely but firmly advising them to cover their face with a mask," said Barrile.

Barrile said as he and other operators go into their second weekend of the pandemic boating season, they will continue to evaluate and tweak best practices.

Russell is also urging passengers to take wearing masks seriously to protect the crew members caring for them, as well as their fellow passengers.
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