Chicago mask mandate, proof of vaccine requirement to lift at same time as state

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago health officials said they anticipate that the city's proof of vaccine requirement and indoor mask mandate will lift around the same time as the state's.

Gov. JB Pritzker said he anticipates the state's indoor mask mandate for venues that are not schools, hospitals, and public transit will lift on Feb. 28 as COVID hospitalizations continue to drop.

READ MORE: Pritzker to lift Illinois mask mandate for some

Shortly after, Chicago health officials released their own statement saying if the city continues to see declines in these leading COVID metrics, we too should be in a position to lift restrictions at that time.

Proof of vaccination would no longer be required for patrons of restaurants, bars and gyms, along with the indoor mask mandates applying to those spaces in the city.

As with the state, the changes would not apply to public transit, health care facilities or schools, and business owners can still impose stricter requirements if they want to.

The news was met with mixed reactions. At Charbella Salon in Lakeview, customers wore masks while getting their hair done, as did their stylist. The owner said so far no one has complained about it, but once the mask mandate is lifted she still plans to ask for proof of vaccination.

"We're still going to do that because we want to protect ourselves and the public," said Vicky Smith, owner of Charbella Salon.

Some said by the end of the month isn't soon enough. Eleven Chicago aldermen signed a letter callingon the city to lift all mandates by this weekend, in time for the Super Bowl and Valentine's Day. They cited a 1.5 point drop in the past week in Chicago's positivity rate.

"We don't need to wait and miss two major economic opportunities for our city just because we want to be on pace with the state," said 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez.

Businesses from salons to fitness centers to restaurants have suffered during the pandemic. Some have been forced to close, while others have had to make major adjustments.

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Chicago officials said they expect to end the city's indoor mask and vaccine mandates around the same time as the state's mask mandate is lifted.



Scott Weiner, partner 19 Chicago restaurants including West Town Bakery, said removing the mask mandate could be a major step toward normalcy.

"Once that worry is gone I think we'll see the restaurant industry get back to as normal as we're gonna be," he said.

"It's been a tough environment, we've all had to learn on our feet," said Phillip Walters, B. Hospitality Co.

"As we lift the mask mandates, we hope people will feel more safe and start to come out again," said Steven Hartenstein, Stefani Restaurant Group.

The Cook County Department of Public Health said it also anticipates that if key metrics continue to improve, the vaccination and masking orders for suburban Cook County, less Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park and Stickney Township, can be lifted in the same timeframe Pritzker laid out Wednesday.
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