Coronavirus Illinois: Elmhurst closing pools for season, Aurora closing Paramount Theatre, River Edge Park for summer

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- As the weather slowly starts to change, many municipalities are planning for summer, but the concerts in the park and lazy days spent at the swimming pool we look forward to every year are no longer on the table everywhere.

Both Elmhurst and Aurora announced Wednesday that swimming pools will be closed this summer. Aurora also announced its parks will remain closed.

"Folks, these decisions are not easy ones," said Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. "They are made in unison with each entity and with the best interest of the entire community."

"We will open again when it's possible," said Tim Rater of Paramount Theatre. "We have nearly every artist confirmed for next summer and those who aren't are interested in coming back."

Mayor Irvin, who battled the coronavirus himself, said these were not easy decisions to make, but health experts made stern recommendations that need to be followed.

"If you take in consideration the health and safety of our citizens and all of our residents, not just in Aurora but all those ones that travel here," he said.

Sidewalk skateboarding may be the best socializing teens can hope for, at least for the near future.

"It's weird to walk around and see nobody on the streets," said Aurora resident Jennifer Jordan. "We're normally a very vibrant community."

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Concerts in the park are lazy days at the pool are hallmarks of summer, but not this year.

Irvin apologized to graduating high school seniors in an online town hall Wednesday night. He knows this wasn't the way high school was supposed to end.

Summer concerts, parades and festivals are all canceled.

"So many kids depend on the programs just to have a social life, and community, and meet friends and socialize," said Kaela Ancheta, Aurora resident. "I think it's really going to affect them in a negative way, unfortunately."

Ancheta spent four summers working at Aurora's community pool.

"It's the local spot. Every kid has always been there," she said. "I think we need to do everything we can, of course, to stay safe, but I also think it's just a trying time for everyone because the community really does depend on the public outside and different social spaces for us."

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As the weather slowly starts to change, many municipalities are planning for summer and the big question many have is will pools reopen?

At Elmhurst's East End Pool, things are very quiet and it will stay that way for the rest of the season.

With COVID-19 numbers still high, the Elmhurst Park District will keep East End Pool and Smalley Pool closed for the season.
Aurora is just the latest community to announce the cancellation of its summer programming, big and small. Last week the Chicago Park District announced a limited summer camp season will take place, though no decision has yet been made in regards to swimming pools.

The CDC has said right now there is no known risk of contracting COVID-19 in a swimming pool, but with strict social distancing protocols still in place, it's hard for many areas to open pools safely. The concern is about the people who are in these areas that may be asymptomatic.

Elmhurst officials said the decision to keep both outdoor pools closed were made from both a safety and financial perspective.

"The concern is not about the water, but what social distancing guidelines will be in place," said Jim Rogers of the Elmhurst Park District. "Our pool shave capacities well into the multiple hundreds of people and we can only have gatherings of 50 or fewer people, how would we set it up?"

"When you add it all up, it just didn't make sense this summer," he continued.
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