COVID vaccine proof in Chicago, Cook County for bars, restaurants and indoor venues takes effect

Arlington Heights, Orland Park, Tinley Park and Burr Ridge all say they will not enforce mandate

Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Chicago, Cook Co. vaccine proof requirements take effect
Visiting many indoor places including bars and restaurants in Chicago and suburban Cook County now requires proof of vaccination.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A proof of vaccination mandate for many indoor public places including restaurants and gyms went into effect for the city of Chicago and most of suburban Cook County Monday.

The mandate applies to everyone age five and older and it includes restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor venues like sports and entertainment areas.

The rules in Chicago and suburban Cook don't apply to those inside venues for less than 10 minutes, like those picking up takeout. They also do not apply for houses of worship.

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You can now download a QR code with your vaccination information right to your phone that can be scanned at any business or event requiring vaccination.

Club Pilates Lincoln Park has been planning for this day for weeks, aligning the business with the city's new vaccine mandate.

"So we've been reaching out to members for the last two weeks or so just asking them to submit their vaccination cards so it's a super easy process when they come in," owner Abby Phelps said. "There are people who are disappointed by this decision as well and ultimately we're just following the mandate."

You will be able to show proof of vaccination with a physical card, a picture of your card, or through the state's new Smart Health Card pass on your phone.

Suburbs like Arlington Heights, Burr Ridge, Orland Park and now Tinley Park have all said they won't enforce the vaccine mandate.

Arlington Heights said they are leaving the choice up to businesses as to whether or not to check for proof of vaccine, releasing a statement that said, "As we have done with other Orders of the Cook County Department of Public Health, the Village will leave compliance up to the individual businesses and enforcement up to the County as the issuing governmental body. The Village of Arlington Heights will not be issuing any Orders of its own mandating proof of vaccination or negative tests. As we have done in the past, we will continue to investigate any non-compliance complaints received and will advise both the business owner and county if violations are found. Rest assured that we do take these issues very seriously and will continue to try to find the right balance to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of our residents and businesses."

Patrons at the Patio in Orland Park said masks are still mandatory, but the restaurant isn't carding.

"You can protect yourself," said Jim, a customer. "I have my mask on, ready to go in."

"I guess it's their prerogative. I guess I'm pro-choice, whatever they decide, I just wish everyone would get vaccinated," said Renee Gattone, patron.

Orland Park, Arlington Heights mayors want to leave Cook Co. COVID vaccine mandate up to businesses

Meanwhile, some business owners are concerned about the new mandate causing friction with customers who don't comply.

"There are people who are disappointed by this decision as well and ultimately, we're just following the mandate," Phelps said.

MacArthur's restaurant in Austin is doing just carry out for now, choosing to opt out of dine in with the new mandate and the latest surge of COVID. The restaurant's spokesman, Maurice Gaiter, said some customers have offered to show their vaccination cards, but they do not want staffers to have to confront folks who may not want to comply.

He also said that particularly in their neighborhood, which has been hard hit by COVID, they want to reduce the chances of spreading the virus.

But the city's new rules come with some mixed emotions.

"It's really tough because I think everyone should have a choice but I also know people want to feel more protected," said Shannan Carlson, member of Club Pilates Lincoln Park

"Honestly, you know you go to Target, you go to so many different places and I work in retail and I'm with the public and have been for the last two years, so I think it's so hit or miss," said Dawn Polinghorn, Club Pilates Lincoln Park member. "I don't think there's any consistency."

Many businesses are working out how to enforce it and avoid friction with customers. Club Pilates is just hoping to make the process as easy as possible.

"I'm in favor of anything that gets us to the other side of COVID," Phelps said. "I think everybody's ready to be able to be done with this, have masks off and be able to go on with life."

Chicago restaurants and businesses could face a costly fine for not properly posting or enforcing the new vaccine-only policy, or keeping a log of vaccinated employees.