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Police Clear Lakefront Hours After Warning About Obeying Stay-At-Home Order

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police late Wednesday took to the lakefront and directed everybody to leave – hours after Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a warning about people who are not obeying the statewide stay-at-home order prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Chicago Police said officers began clearing the lakefront beginning at Oak Street and also at Fullerton Drive just before 6 p.m. Joggers and bikers were directed to go home.

Chopper 2 spotted officers driving squad cars along the bike path at Fullerton Drive, and we even spotted officers on foot checking for anyone hanging out.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, the sun and warmer temperatures Wednesday were enough for people to leave their couch quarantines and come outside as if it were a normal day. Mayor Lightfoot was not happy with those who decided to pack the lakefront and violate the stay-at-home order.

Earlier Wednesday, Mayor Lightfoot and Interim police Supt. Charlie Beck emphasized that the stay-at-home order is not a suggestion, and people cannot be grouping together in public.

"Stay at home. Only go out for essentials. You have to readjust your thinking. Be smart," Lightfoot said. "Not only will our police be deployed to shut them down if you are not abiding by these orders we will be forced to shut down the parks and lakefront. The situation Is deadly serious and we need you take it deadly seriously."

Lightfoot added that spending long periods of time outdoors, anywhere, is not allowed. And neither is going into closed spaces, like playgrounds.

"You cannot go on long bike rides. Playgrounds are shut down. You must abide by the order. Outside, is for a brief respite, not for 5Ks. I can't emphasize enough that we abide the rules."

Chicago Park District CEO Mike Kelly said outside spaces are open but need to be used judiciously.

"The parks and open space are here for your enjoyment. But keep your distance. If someone is passing by, step aside and let them through," Kelly said.

Interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck issued the strongest warning about being out with others. He said the grace period is over and the order will now be enforced.

"Violation of this legal mandate is a misdemeanor. It is a violation of the Municipal Code. If you violate it, you are subject to a fine of $500, and if you continue to violate it, you'll be subject to physical arrest," Beck said.

Under Gov. JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order, playgrounds and park field houses are also closed. The order will be in effect until at least April 7.

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