Chicago cancels Lollapalooza, other festivals due to virus
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago officials on Tuesday canceled Lollapalooza and other summer festivals through Labor Day, citing concerns about the spread of coronavirus as the pandemic’s financial toll worsened.
Lollapalooza draws hundreds of thousands of people over four days to a lakefront park, generating more than $5 million for Chicago, but city officials said it was too risky with crowds packed close together.
“Bringing that many people from all over the country downtown in Grant Park every single day, we might as well just light ourselves on fire,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “It makes no sense given what we know about how this disease spreads.”
The financial cost of the coronavirus crisis continued to climb with Lightfoot estimating a $700 million budget shortfall. The first-term mayor said Chicago will try to delay some projects, but all options to address the budget hole remain on the table, including a property tax increase.
Since the pandemic began, Illinois has reported 129,212 cases of COVID-19 and 6,018 deaths, including 797 cases and 95 deaths announced Tuesday. In Chicago, there were 48,585 cases and 2,306 deaths as of Tuesday.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older people and the infirm, it can cause severe symptoms and lead to death.
The rates of infections and hospitalizations have slowed, prompting state and city officials to loosen restrictions aimed at curbing the spread. Illinois began doing so at the end of May. Chicago followed suit last week, for instance, allowing restaurants to offer outdoor dining.
However, city officials are preparing for a possible surge after numerous demonstrations and protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death drew crowds to cities big and small.
Officials continued to calculate the financial toll.
The International Manufacturing Technology Show scheduled to be held at McCormick Place in September became the latest trade show to be scrapped because of the pandemic. More than 129,000 people had signed up to attend, and McCormick Place spokeswoman Cynthia McCafferty told The Chicago Tribune that the show was expected to account for more than 99,300 hotel room nights.
Conventions are crucial to the city’s financial health, and the show is the latest of nearly 100 events at McCormick Place to be canceled this year. McCafferty said those cancellations add up to a loss of more than $1.4 billion that attendees would have spent on things like hotels, entertainment, restaurants and transportation.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced it was scrapping all permitted special events through Sept. 7. In addition to Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Air and Water Show and the Chicago Jazz Festival all were scrapped.
Lollapalooza officials said they understood the decision and were focused on a 30th anniversary event scheduled for 2021.
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