Local businesses gear up for full return: ‘It feels like New Year’s Eve’

Last year, Luis Centeno remembered, he thought a weeklong shutdown of his gym was a good thing if it meant saving lives and mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

“Everyone thought it was going to be just a one-or-three-week lockdown. Then it turned into a month. Then, almost a-year-and-a-half later, and we are just barely coming out of it,” said Centeno, founder of Fit Results.

On Friday, Chicago will end a year of restrictions on crowd size, indoor gatherings and the like caused by a global pandemic which has claimed millions of lives, including nearly 600,000 in the United States.

But reopening doesn’t mean an end of the pandemic or a complete return to normal. Artifacts of a pandemic world will remain, such as mask-wearing in certain settings, hand sanitizer pumps at business entrances or clear plastic guards in separating customers from store cashiers. But it will mean people can freely gather en masse.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said moving…

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