Chicago Black businesses fear the vaccine mandate will keep some of their patrons away

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Chicago Black business owners worry that they could be more impacted by the vaccine mandate since Black residents have the lowest rate of vaccination in the city.

"I am not extremely mad at the mandate from a safety perspective, but yes there will be fewer bodies, meaning less revenue," said Dave Jeff, owner of Alpha Space in South Loop.

Mayor Lightfoot announced Tuesday that the city will require all restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues to have their patrons present proof of vaccination starting January 3.

"My first reaction, thinking business first, was of course I was upset because once again it was another setback, but when I think about it we just have to be more cautious in today's times," said Kenya Reaves, ownner of FAM Entertainment Theater Company in Bronzeville.

READ MORE: Illinois reports 16,581 new COVID cases, 66 deaths

Rhonda McFarland is the executive director of the Quad Communities Development Corporation. The economic development agency serves several neighborhoods on the South Side. McFarland said her agency is in support of getting more Black residents vaccinated.

"We know that we have one of the lowest rates and it's a challenge," she said. "We do understand that we think there is going to be some impact on our Black businesses."

Chicago Department of Public Health officials said they're trying to protect public health. They hope the mandate is a motivator for people to get vaccinated. Some businesses owners said it won't have that effect on their patrons who are unvaccinated.

"I think they're just going to stay at home," Jeff said.

Rael Jackson, who works with The Quarry in South Shore, said the health of the community is most important.

"We prefer for the community to be healthy by any means necessary as opposed to us generating revenue," he said.

McFarland said she's encouraging business owners to pivot as they have throughout the pandemic.

"Be creative and that's a big part of what we need," she said. "Be willing to be flexible and modify your operations."
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.