Chicago is implementing a new vaccine mandate for certain indoor spaces like bars, restaurants and gyms across the city next year in a bid to slow an increase in COVID cases. But as cases continue to rise daily, some wonder why wait until January to start new mitigation measures?
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the issue during her press conference announcing the new guidelines on Tuesday, saying the move was meant to help businesses adapt to the new protocols.
“The reason we wait until Jan. 3, after conversations with our business partners, is when we give them enough time to adjust,” said Lightfoot. “We have to put the signage up. They have to establish a protocol for their employees, they have to train their employees.
The new guidelines come into effect on January 3, requiring anyone aged 5 and over to present full proof of vaccination in order to dine indoors or visit gyms or entertainment venues where food and drink are available. are served.
The city said the policy is “in response to an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally, driven in part by the omicron variant.”
“Despite our diligent and fair efforts to distribute vaccines throughout this year,
Unfortunately, our city continues to see a surge of COVID-19 Delta and now Omicron cases, ”Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “New measures must be taken to protect the health and well-being of our residents. This public health decree requiring proof of vaccination to visit certain indoor public places is a necessary step to ensure that we can continue to enjoy our city’s many amenities as the New Year dawns. “
Under the new guidelines, people aged 5 and over must show full proof of vaccination, but anyone aged 16 and over will also need to provide identification that matches their vaccination record. Employees at these sites will also need to be vaccinated or wear a mask and show proof of weekly negative COVID-19 tests.
The city noted that its indoor mask mandate also remains in effect.
“This new requirement will not eliminate the risk of COVID, but it will help ensure a much safer indoor environment for fully vaccinated Chicagoans, as well as employees working in these high-risk environments. As we head into the winter months, we need to take that step now, ”Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr Allison Arwady said in a statement. “With Omicron, I expect to see a lot more COVID re-infections and breakthrough cases, but luckily vaccines continue to protect very well against serious illness, hospitalization and death, and even more when people have it too. received a reminder. I remain very concerned for the hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans who still have not received a single dose of the COVID vaccine or recovered from the COVID infection. I’m worried about their own health, but also about the risk they pose to the health of others and to our hospital capacity – and while we’re in this worrying wave, we need to limit that risk.
Here are the full requirements:
Indoor dining room
Establishments where food or drink is served, including but not limited to restaurants, bars, fast food establishments, cafes, tasting rooms, cafeterias, food courts, grocery store food courts, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls and hotel ballrooms
Fitness in the gym
Gyms and fitness facilities including, but not limited to, gymnasiums, leisure facilities, fitness centers, yoga, Pilates, cycling, barre and dance studios, gymnasiums hotel, boxing and kickboxing gyms, fitness training camps and other facilities used for conducting group indoor fitness classes.
Indoor entertainment and recreation places where food or drink is served
Including, but not limited to, movie theaters, concert and music venues, performance venues, adult entertainment venues, commercial event and party venues, sports arenas, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, game rooms, family entertainment centers, play areas, pool and pool halls and others
recreational play centers.
Places not included in the requirement
The vaccine requirement does not include places of worship; grocery stores (although interior food sections of grocery stores are included); locations at O’Hare International Airport or Midway International Airport; sites in a residential or office building the use of which is limited to residents, owners or tenants of this building; or catering establishments that only provide charitable food services, such as soup kitchens. Schools and daycares are also not included in the order.
Companies will be required to develop and maintain a written record of their plans for implementing and enforcing the vaccine requirement while also posting signs at the entrances.
There are some exceptions to this requirement, however, city officials noted. These include:
• Individuals entering an establishment for less than 10 minutes to order and
carry food; deliver goods; or use the bathroom;
• A non-resident performer who does not perform or render services regularly
in a covered place, or a non-resident natural person accompanying such
artist, while the performer or individual is in a covered area for the
the purposes of that artist’s performance;
• A non-resident professional athlete or non-resident individual accompanying such
professional athlete, who enters a covered area as part of his
employment for the purpose of professional athlete / sports team competition;
• People who have already benefited from a medical or religious exemption (eg.
of an employer), provided that these clients show proof of establishment of the
medical or religious exemption and a COVID-19 test administered by a doctor
professional within 72 hours of entry.
• A person 18 years of age or younger entering a covered area to
participate in an activity organized by a school or extracurricular program offered by
any public or non-public school from Kindergarten to Grade 12; and
• A person who enters for the purpose of voting in a municipality, state or federal government
election; or, in accordance with the law, assist or accompany a voter or observe
City health officials have been saying for weeks that vaccine proof may soon be required for some indoor activities and public spaces.
Several restaurants and places have already required proof of vaccination or negative tests to enter regardless of city rules.
“There is no denying that we are in a fifth wave of COVID-19,” Lightfoot said in a speech Tuesday. “This new wave is apparently deadlier than the last, spreading faster and causing profound damage. I haven’t been so concerned about COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic in 2020.”