Cook County indoor mask mandate takes effect Monday, with face masks required in bars, restaurants

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Starting Monday, suburban Cook County will follow Chicago's lead and reinstate its indoor mask mandate.

People will be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

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"We are in a dangerous period, with the Delta variant surging, during which we must return to previous remediation measures," said Dr. Rachel Rubin, Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer of Cook County Department of Public Health said in a statement Friday. "We have no choice but to mandate that people wear masks indoors to help contain this spread of the virus."

Similar to Chicago's mask mandate that took effect Friday, face masks may only be removed when eating or drinking.

According to the CCDPH order, businesses will be required to post signage that states that masks are required. CCDPH has created a sign that can be posted by employers and it can be found on the CCDPH website.

"As the virus changes, we need to adapt our guidance and recommendations to keep residents safe," said Dr. Kiran Joshi, Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer of Cook County Department of Public Health. "This variant is highly contagious and represents over 90 percent of our recent cases. We must act now."

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Masks are flying off store shelves once again, as mandates return to help stop the surge of COVID-19 cases.

Oak Park started its own indoor mask mandate on August 6 after seeing a spike in COVID infections.

Ahead of the implementation of the mask mandate, one local restaurant is giving a sense of what other communities may see when the rest of Cook County falls under universal indoor masking rules Monday.

'We all kind of want to preserve our business right now and I think our customers are doing a pretty good job of it," said Aron Pagadala, a server at Hemingway's Bistro.

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At Hemingway's Bistro, it's a mostly outdoor crowds, but inside, everyone over the age of 2 year old not actively eating or drinking must mask up if they're medically able.

Pagadala said he hasn't seen any major issues with compliance so far.

"A lot of the people that were going out and, you know, going maskless have now, just, you know, embraced wearing masks again, so I really don't think that's going to have much of an effect on us," he added.

However, as of Monday, the rest of Cook County's suburbs will find out how their own communities adapt when a universal mask mandate takes effect.

Cook County health officials worried about the more transmissible Delta variant's spread, which has prompted the mask requirement for businesses from movie theaters to gyms.

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"I really wish that people could make their own decision, especially for kids," said Northbrook resident, Vlada Ginzburg.

Ginzburg isn't looking forward to the renewed restrictions.

Since she is fully vaccinated, she said she feels protected enough to avoid masks.

"It's one thing to wear a mask in the grocery store but it's another thing in the gym class or in the health club," she said.
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