Chicago COVID: Some restaurants say business down after proof of vaccine requirement starts

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Chicago restaurants say an already slow January is even slower now that the city's proof of COVID vaccine mandate is in effect.

Customers often spend less after the holidays, and the cold weather and fear of the omicron variant are keeping them inside. Now some businesses say the new rule is adding to it.

The owner of Nuevo Leon restaurant in Little Village said they began checking COVID vaccination cards this week as required by the city of Chicago. But Laura Gutierrez said she's been getting pushback from some customers.

"Their reaction wasn't what I expected," she said.

She said after numerous complaints and customers leaving, refusing to show proof of vaccination, business is down 80% this week.

"It's nothing we are doing against them, we are just trying to keep the business afloat and keep everybody healthy," she said.

Gutierrez said they will comply not only to keep staff and customers safe, but because she doesn't want to pay fines. Just this week the Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection department said they received 32 complaints and handed out 10 citations to five businesses.

Nuevo Leon customer Julio Quiles said he and his family had COVID last month. He and his friends didn't know about the new rule when they came into the restaurant earlier this week, but Friday they were back with their vaccination cards at the ready.

"It feels good that they are asking for it to keep the cases low and avoid people being hit by it more than they already have," he said.

Gutierrez hopes more customer will come back with vaccine cards, and hopes she won't have to make drastic changes to keep the 40-year-old family business open.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.