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As Chicago Reopens, Businesses To Celebrate By Giving Away $250 Gift Cards

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As a thank you for helping Chicago become the largest big city in the nation to fully reopen, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is giving away hundreds of $250 gift cards at local businesses through July 4.

"We are strong, we are resilient, and we are back," Lightfoot said at a pep rally downtown to celebrate the city's reopening. "Chicago is now the largest big city in the country that is fully reopened."

Starting Friday, hundreds of $250 gift cards will be hidden at shops throughout the city to encourage people to get back out to local businesses. Lightfoot said, if you spot a business with a "Thank You For Helping Chicago Reopen" poster, just say "Open Chicago" to win a $250 gift card for Raise Marketplace, which are redeemable at more than 4,000 shops and restaurants in the city.

The effort is a partnership between Raise Marketplace and World Business Chicago, the public-private agency that serves as the city's economic development arm.

The announcement comes as the city fully reopens on Friday, lifting capacity limits on businesses across the city.

"You masked up, you got vaxxed up, and now it's time for you to get up, get out of the house this summer, and fully and safely enjoy the events of the best city on the planet, our beloved city of Chicago," Lightfoot said.

Although the beginning of Phase 5 of the state's reopening plan on Friday means no more capacity limits on businesses, some COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place.

While people who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask in most circumstances, face coverings will still be required when people are riding public transportation or in congregate settings like schools, hospitals, daycare centers, and correctional facilities.

Although businesses can fully reopen without state restrictions, they can still require customers to wear masks and observe social distancing.

In addition, public health officials are still urging people who haven't been fully vaccinated to wear masks in crowded settings indoors and outdoors.

Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said it's also important for people to continue getting vaccinated.

Arwady said she's concerned that, if there's another surge in virus cases, it would happen in largely Black and Brown neighborhoods where vaccination rates are lagging behind the rest of the city.

As part of the city's efforts to encourage people to get the vaccine, Arwady said the city has partnered with Lollapalooza organizers to give away 1,000 free one-day passes to the summer music festival to people who have been fully vaccinated.

On June 26, the city will host a "Lollapalooza experience" at four locations in Chicago, each featuring live music and custom Lollapalooza giveaways. Each of the sites will offer passes to a different day of Lollapalooza.

Meantime, on July 1, the city will host a "Protect Chicago" concert at Chicago State University, featuring hip hop artists Savemoney, with free tickets for people who have been fully vaccinated.

More details on those giveaways will be announced later.


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