CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot and health officials announced Tuesday that individuals 5 years of age and older will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to dine indoors and visit gyms or entertainment venues where food or drinks are served.
According to the mayor’s office, the new requirement goes into effect Jan. 3 and is in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases in part by the omicron variant. It is similar to the requirements already in place in other large cities, including New York City and Los Angeles.
“There’s no denying that we’re in a fifth wave of COVID-19. This new wave is seemingly more deadly than the last, spreading faster and causing profound harm,” Lightfoot said. “To be clear I’ve not been this concerned about COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic in 2020. If you wish to live life as normally as possible with the easy to do the things that you love, you must be vaccinated in the city of Chicago starting January 3.”
People age 5 and older must show proof of full vaccination. People age 16 and older will also need to provide identification that matches their vaccination record.
Under Lightfoot’s order businesses will be required to develop and keep records of their protocol for enforcing the vaccine requirement. They’ll also need to prominently post signage of the mandate.
If employees are not fully vaccinated, the employer must ensure that they continue to mask when interacting with patrons and provide proof of a weekly negative COVID-19 test.
The City of Chicago’s mask mandate also remains in effect for all public indoor settings. The new order does not affect this mask requirement.
“This new requirement will not eliminate COVID risk, but it will help ensure a much safer indoor environment for fully vaccinated Chicagoans, as well as for the employees working in these higher-risk settings. As we head further into the winter months, we must take this step now,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
Chicago was already experiencing a COVID-19 surge thanks to the Delta variant, and as the much more contagious Omicron variant has become dominant over the last week, that surge has dramatically worsened.
The city is now averaging more than 1,700 new COVID cases in Chicago residents every day, a 79% increase from one week ago. Chicago’s test positivity rate is now over 7%, up from 4.1% one week ago.
The Chicago Vaccine Requirements will apply to the following public indoor places:
• Indoor Dining: Establishments where food or beverages are served, including, but not limited to, restaurants, bars, fast food establishments, coffee shops, tasting rooms, cafeterias, food courts, dining areas of grocery stores, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls, and hotel ballrooms.
• Indoor Fitness: Gyms and fitness venues, including, but not limited to, gyms, recreation facilities, fitness centers, yoga, Pilates, cycling, barre, and dance studios, hotel gyms, boxing and kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, and other facilities used for conducting indoor group fitness classes.
• Indoor entertainment and recreation venues where food or beverages are served: Including, but not limited to, movie theaters, music and concert venues, live performance venues, adult entertainment venues, commercial event and party venues, sports arenas, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, card rooms, family entertainment centers, play areas, pool and billiard halls, and other recreational game centers.
The vaccine requirement does not include houses of worship; grocery stores (though indoor dining sections within grocery stores would be included); locations in O’Hare International Airport or Midway International Airport; locations in a residential or office building the use of which is limited to residents, owners, or tenants of that building; or food service establishments providing only charitable food services, such as soup kitchens.
Schools and day cares also are not included in the order.