Chicago mayor mandates proof of vaccination for people at gyms, restaurants, venues

"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 concedes.
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Washington, D.C., January 23, 2020.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will require Chicago gyms, restaurants and entertainment venues to check the vaccination status of all patrons 5 and older starting Jan. 3.

The move comes in response to an increase in cases, including from the omicron variant.

On Tuesday, Lightfoot announced that any person 5 years of age or older will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to dine indoors, visit gyms, or go to entertainment venues where food or drink are served.

"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.

Workers in such businesses are not required to provide proof of vaccination, but the employer must ensure that these employees both continue to mask when interacting with patrons and provide proof of a weekly negative COVID-19 test, according to the news release.

The city of Chicago 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 mayor's office said.

"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," Lightfoot said.

The requirement will affect how local restaurants and other services conduct their business.

Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia urged people to cooperate.

"Chicago's hospitality community is in a very fragile stage of recovery," Toia said. "Throughout the pandemic, the industry has prioritized customer and team member safety above all else, and the IRA strongly supports vaccinations for everyone to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We encourage all diners to please lend their cooperation, respect, and kindness to the employees working to comply with the new mandate during these challenging times."

The vaccine requirement will go into effect on Jan. 3, 2022.