Chicago to lift indoor mask mandate on Feb. 28, in alignment with IL, Mayor Lightfoot says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced Tuesday the city will remove the mask and vaccine requirements for certain public spaces on February 28. This is in alignment with the State of Illinois.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the key metrics of cases and hospitalization numbers are putting Chicago in position to no longer require masks in most indoor spaces.

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady discuss the city's decision to lift the indoor mask mandate and vaccine mandate for public places on Feb. 28.

She said she is also dropping the proof of vaccination requirement.

"Because we are now on the downward slope of that surge, we don't believe that there is any further need for these mandates," said Lightfoot.

Officials said COVID cases are down 97% from the late December peak.

At XEX Salon the news that the mask mandate is about to end is providing a sense of relief the owner said he and his staff are ready to be done wearing face coverings

"I feel it's good. I mean, I feel like everyone's ready here in Chicago is ready," said David Perry, Founder, XEX Salon. "People are ready to move on. I feel like the numbers have dropped so dramatically that the safety value is there."

Masks will still be required in health care settings, on public transit, and in other congregate settings. The city said business owners may still impose their own mandates if they choose.

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Chicago will remove the mask and vaccine requirements for certain public spaces on February 28. Business owners may still impose their own mandates if they choose.

The owner of Nuevo Leon in Little Village said she got a lot of push back on the requiring the vaccination cards. She's hoping some of the regulars come back.

"Our hands won't be as tied anymore we will be able to serve and do what our industry has taught us to do," said Laura Gutierrez.

"It's a sign we are going toward an endemic where we know COVID won't be going away in the near future but we are able to live with it in ways that keep people safe and in ways that keep our economy fully open," said Sam Toia, Illinois Restaurant Association president and CEO.

But some restaurant workers say they will opt to wear masks, and other venues and productions are keeping their requirements for now.

Broadway in Chicago, the Symphony Center and the Lyric Opera all said they will continue to require masks and proof of vaccination for audience members after the end of February.

"We want people to be confident that we have their health and wellbeing as our overriding priority," said Anthony Freud, president and CEO of Lyric Opera of Chicago.

"We shouldn't take it lightly that we are still dealing with the pandemic just because the mandate is lifted doesn't mean the pandemic is going away," said Trillis Rollins, Peach's chef and manager.

And masks will still be required in hospitals, on public transit, and in Chicago Public Schools.

READ MORE: Pritzker to lift Illinois mask mandate for some

The city's public health director is not anticipating a huge surge in COVID-19 cases after next week.

"We always expect as we lift some litigations that we'll see a little bit of a resurgence," said Dr. Allison Arwady. "So we always expect as we live some mitigations that we'll see a little bit of a resurgence. One of the reasons why we don't want to move too soon, is to make sure that at the time that we live that we can we can tolerate a little bit of an increase there."

The news gives salon customer Khit Masoud a big reason so smile, and soon ditch the mask.

"If people want to wear one great, wear one," said Masoud. "But we also have the choice and, you know, it's that whole, you know, human interaction that we can get back to where we can start paying attention to people's by language, when they're smiling when they're mad, you know, just simple things like that."

Full statement from the League of Chicago Theaters

In these changing times, the coalition of more than 60 performing arts venues and producers across Chicagoland, who came together in the fall of 2021 to create unified COVID19 guidelines, will continue their Covid-19 Vaccination and Mask Requirements for audiences. This unified COVID-19 protection protocol will be in effect until further notice and will be reviewed regularly based on the needs and comfort of our patrons, staff and artists and may be relaxed at any time. Venues, in most cases, will be requiring audience members to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination or, for those with exemptions including children, a negative test certification upon entry. Guidelines may vary by venue, so patrons should check the website of the theatre or venue prior to attendance.
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