Chicago mayor requiring vaccines for restaurants, gyms, other venues
Chicago businesses such as gyms, restaurants and entertainment venues will have to verify the vaccination status of any patrons over the age of 5 beginning on Jan. 3 after Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) issued new guidelines on Tuesday in response to the “alarming” rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.
“Despite our diligent and equitable vaccine distribution efforts throughout this year, unfortunately, our city continues to see a surge of COVID-19 Delta and now Omicron cases,” Lightfoot said in a statement.
“New steps must be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents. This public health order requiring proof of vaccination to visit certain indoor public places is a necessary measure to ensure we can continue to enjoy our city’s many amenities as we enter the new year.”
Patrons over the age of 16 will be required to provide identification matching their vaccine verification, while employees at venues who are not fully vaccinated will have to wear masks when interacting with customers and provide proof of a weekly negative COVID-19 test.
Locations that are not subject to the order include schools, houses of worship, grocery store, residential and office buildings, locations in Chicago’s major airports and soup kitchens.
Exceptions to the requirement can also be made for people who expect to be in a venue for less than 10 minutes, a nonresident of Chicago who does not regularly perform at a venue, those with religious or medical exemptions and people who are entering a building in order to vote in an election.
This order will stay in place until Chicago is “through this Omicron-driven surge and the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity has passed.”
The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Chicago has tripled in the past two months, with roughly 1,000 new cases being reported every day on average, according to the city’s most recent coronavirus data. Chicago currently has a positivity rate of 7.3 percent, rising by more than three percent in one week.
Around 64 percent of Chicago’s population is fully vaccinated and roughly 71 percent have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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