Some Chicago restaurants ask for more time before proof of vaccine mandate

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Some restaurants want more time before proof of vaccine mandate
As COVID cases keep surging, some Chicago restaurants say they need more time to prepare for Mayor Lori LIghtfoot's proof of vaccine mandate.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Chicago restaurants say they need more time before Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proof of vaccinate mandate goes into effect.

Currently the mayor's requirement for proof of vaccination for indoor activities goes into effect on Monday, Jan. 3. These restaurants are asking to push that back to Jan. 15 before they have to start checking customers for their vaccine cards.

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"There simply isn't enough time by January 3, next Monday, to put all of this in place and be ready for the chaos that could come," said Roger Romanelli, Chicago Restaurants Coalition coordinator.

The CRC handed Lightfoot a letter Monday, urging her to delay the dine-in restaurant vaccine mandate. Some of the 30 restaurants held a Zoom press conference as well, saying these need more time to change their operations, train and possibly hire new staff.

"I have no idea how I'm going to physically, in my restaurant, figure out the logistics of how this is going to be done, short of having somebody stand outside and check IDs, which means I'm going to have to hire somebody new because I don't have anybody on staff to do this," said Mary Kay Tuzi, owner of Twin Anchors.

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"We've been trying to add staff, without regard to this," said Leonard DeFranco, owner of Hawkeyes Bar & Grills. "That's what make this so particularly burdensome at this time of the year."

"We are going to do it because we have to do it. But we don't agree with it. We don't like it. We would like them to think it through a little bit more in terms of all the matrix of possibilities that could go wrong with this, and the burden it puts on us, which was not what we bargained for," DeFranco said.

The coalition recommends their restaurants install security cameras and set new emergency protocols in case of angry customers. They're also calling on the Chicago police superintendent to post instructions and guidelines for dealing with angry customers on their website.

"The COVID crisis did not happen in the past 13 days. It happened over two years. So restaurants deserve and need a few more days until January 15 to implement this, just like Boston and Washington D.C.," said Romanelli.

The mayor said she's committed to protecting the health and safety of Chicago residents and visitors. The city has hosted webinars for businesses over the vaccine requirement, and provided tens of millions of dollars in business support programs.