By Joe Boyle
Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said he sees a light at the end of the tunnel as the stay-at-home orders by Gov. J.B. Pritzker continue.
The mayor believes that while the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus are still with us, the economy will experience some openings as early as Monday, June 1.
"We've got some good news for you," Sexton stated in his weekly comments on the village website. "The state of Illinois will soon reach Phase 3 of the reopening plan. This means that we can expect some more of our businesses to open on June 1. Yes, this means hair salons. Anybody need a haircut?"
The mayor emphasized that does not mean residents and businesses can totally relax. The dangers posed by COVID-19 are real, he said, and keeping social distancing and wearing masks when entering businesses and public buildings should continue.
But with more businesses opening in June, the mayor said that capacity limit guidelines will be enforced. He pointed out that the village will be monitoring activity at local businesses to make sure that customers do not form crowds.
The mayor said the driving range at 50-Acre Park, 9100 S. Rockwell St., has reopened and the annual farmers market in the Yukich Field lot at 8900 S. Kedzie Ave. will be open to the public beginning today (Thursday, May 21).
"Our farmers market will open," Sexton emphasized. "And yes, it bears repeating. The village will ensure that all those guidelines are in place and will be monitored."
Shoppers will notice that the businesses will be positioned at greater distances from each other in the parking lot when they arrive at the farmers market. The weekly gatherings will continue through October.
The driving range at 50-Acre Park will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Sexton said that while the driving range will be staffed with some employees, refreshment service will be delayed for a period of time.
He added that the Dog Park and the Disc Golf areas at 50-Acre Park are currently open. He is confident that local youth baseball will take place this summer.
The mayor said that residents will notice that more activities will begin to open in June and the rest of the summer. And more businesses will be allowed to operate. However, he added that everyone has to follow the guidelines to remain safe.
"This will be the new norm for awhile, but we will do what we have to do to keep residents safe, while at the same time, helping these businesses get strong again," Sexton said.
Face masks need to be worn inside any business, whether it be grocery stores, the hardware store or carry-out restaurants, the mayor said.
"You are doing this not only to protect yourself, but to protect those around you," the mayor said. "I know Evergreen Parkers can do this. I wear a mask all the time when I am shopping. People like to see me wearing one as it keeps me from talking too much."
All kidding aside, the mayor said that residents should keep these directives in mind. He added that while residents are outdoors, the law is somewhat relaxed if everyone maintains social distancing of at least six feet.
The mayor also reminded residents and community leaders that "EP Strong" signs are still available at the Evergreen Park Community Center, 3450 W. 97th St., through at least Friday. The signs salute the efforts of the first responders and all essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are getting there, slowly but surely," Sexton said. "But let's not get relaxed on the things that have kept us healthy thus far, like hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces. We are not out of the woods yet."