Reopening Illinois: Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower Skydeck reopen Friday with COVID-19 protocols

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fourth of July festivities in the Chicago area will look very different from years past, but there's still plenty going on.

Willis Tower's Skydeck and Shedd Aquarium welcomed back their first visitors in months on Friday, just in time for the holiday weekend.

This Independence Day, city beaches are officially closed. But Katrina Vanacora and her little guy Colin were still able to get real close to the water at the Shedd Aquarium.

"He keeps talking about the diver and there's a big ugly brown fish that he loves to see," Vanacora said. "So he was really excited to come back."

Diving back into the world of sea life, the Shedd welcomed back a limited number of visitors on Friday. Masks and social distancing are now required in the space that's normally flooded by tourists.

The changes include:
-New, separate entrance and exit points
-Limited hourly building capacity
- Timed-admission
-Required face coverings (ages 2+)
-Social distancing of at least 6 feet required

-Circulation paths to encourage one-directional flow
-Additional handwashing and sanitization stations
- Expanded sanitization and cleaning regimen
- Physical barriers installed in places where social distancing cannot be maintained
-Temporarily pausing experiences such as the 4-D theatre and aquatic presentations

Video: Shedd Aquarium penguins visit beluga whales on latest field trip amid closure for coronavirus outbreak
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Several of Chicago's Shedd Aquarium penguins got to meet some beluga whales on their latest field trip adventure around the facility as it remains closed to the public due to the c

"It's been good, I feel comfortable here," Greg Jach said as he explored the Shedd with out-of-town visitors. But he wishes more were open.

"At least it keeps them entertained, we're not sitting around doing nothing at home," he added.

If you're looking for other options, the Willis Tower Skydeck is bringing back its breathtaking views just in time for the holiday weekend.

There are some restrictions, including a capacity limit and timed entry. Only one party will be allowed on the ledge at a time. Again, social distancing and face coverings are a must.

The deck will only be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the time being. Reservations are available at
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