Coronavirus Chicago: Police patrol crowded bars, closed beaches this July 4th weekend

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After crowds cluttered still closed lakefront beaches, Chicago police are now out patrolling, warning would-be beachgoers not to partake.

Chicago's beaches are officially closed through the July 4 holiday weekend, but that hasn't stopped people from getting out there and enjoying some time in the sun.

The famed "Playpen" boat party area was crowded as ever on Friday.

"I'm not trying to go to the beach or get out into a big crowd of people," said resident Dana Hesch.

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With beaches and Lake Michigan off limits, post-quarantine Chicagoans are having to get creative this holiday weekend.

Paddle boarding on the Lincoln Park lagoon offers water and sun, without the crowd.

"It's one of the most socially distant activities you can do," said Patrick Timlin, manager of Chicago SUP. "It's a 12-foot long board. You're paddling by yourself out on the lagoon."

Timlin said the company nearly doubled it reservations on Friday.

"We've gone from 41 reservations today in the morning to 80 by the end of the day," he said. "Tomorrow, we went from 30 to almost 100 now. Definitely been picking up a lot and we're happy to see it."

RELATED: City to crack down on Phase 4 business violations

But as COVID-19 case numbers hang in the balance of the city's reopening, health officials are begging people to keep activities small.

Indoor and outdoor bars in Wrigleyville spilled onto the sidewalks last weekend, with young customers eager to get back to normal. But bars are operating at very limited capacity.

"We've had to turn quite a few people away unfortunately," said bartender Andrea Hughes."When you have 20-21-year-olds, who kind of feel invincible, but also like, use your minds."

RELATED: City to crack down on Phase 4 business violations

Chicago fire officials, police and alcohol enforcement didn't even wait for dark to pace Clark Street. Officials were seen circling crowded bars and counting heads, ready to issue citations.
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