Navy Pier has been closed for nearly three months as part of the state and city shutdown due to COVID-19.
Wednesday outdoor restaurant spaces, tour boats, parking garages and outdoor parks and piers opened.
"It feels like a little bit of hope is coming, like we got through this hard time," said Veronica Payton, visiting Navy Pier. "We can finally come back outside."
"And to just come to Navy Pier, obviously, where you can get that fresh breeze off the lake, it's amazing every time," added DeAnte Newell, Navy Pier visitor.
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Atop the pier at Offshore, Chicago's largest rooftop which can hold 200 people on its deck, umbrellas were up and furniture was sanitized. There's touchless menus at every table that customers scan with their phones.
Staff have been hard at work spacing out the seating and using measures to keep customers safe.
"Our cleaning staff is constantly moving throughout the pier and making sure they are sanitizing high touch surfaces, tables, elevator buttons, all of that." Said Payal Patel, Navy Pier communications director.
"As soon as we learned that it was opening, we just took the opportunity to come out here and enjoy it," said Robert Lemus, visiting Navy Pier.
At Harry Caray's, not only are they using their large outdoor patio, but they have special partitions at the outdoor bar to keep both the customers and workers safe.
"One thing you will notice when you see our outdoor bar, we covered the entire thing with plexiglass, our host tent has a plexiglass shield," said Grant De Porter, president of the Harry Caray Restaurant Group. "We have a lot of distance between all of our tables. We probably have the most distance anywhere just by the way we designed it and then we have giant bathrooms for a lot of handwashing and sanitation."
The Navy Pier Ferris wheel and other rides remain closed, as do the pier's indoor spaces, and The Chicago Children's Museum will not reopen yet. Fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday nights have been canceled through July 4th, and that includes Independence Day.
"This is a long time coming," Patel said. "We've been very anxious to get our outdoor spaces open and start the first phase of re-welcoming guests back to the pier safety."
There are social distancing ambassadors around Navy Pier to remind people to keep space between groups.
Twenty-one states and Puerto Rico are seeing a spike in infections, and 14 states, including Arizona are seeing their highest seven-day average growth since the start of the pandemic. In Illinois Wednesday, health officials announced 625 new cases and 78 additional deaths.
In Chicago there was another sign of summer: bridges raised so boats can access the lake.