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

New COVID vaccine mandate takes effect Jan. 3

Michelle Gallardo Image
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Cook County COVID: Orland Park mayor wants businesses to decide whether to follow new vaccine mandate
As the new Cook County COVID vaccine mandate nears, Orland Park board members will vote on whether to allow businesses to enforce the mitigations.

ORLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- New COVID-19 restrictions that require proof of vaccination for restaurants, gyms and other businesses will go into effect on January 3 for both the city of Chicago and suburban Cook County.

Related: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announces COVID vaccine proof requirement

However, the leaders of some municipalities said they will leave it up to each business to decide whether to follow the new mitigations.

'We don't believe mandates are necessary. Number one. And we don't think they're effective," said Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau.

It's not the first time the Mayor of Orland Park has defied a mandate issued for suburban Cook County. Throughout the pandemic the village board has consistently voted to leave it up to their businesses and customers to decide how they want to approach issues such as masking and indoor dining. The board is expected to do the same at a special meeting being held Tuesday night.

"We're pretty busy," Pekau said. "We do not have the time to look at 200 restaurants and whether they're checking vaccinations or not. And that's just the restaurants."

The board voted again, 6-0, to not enforce the proof of vaccination mandate issued by Cook County and instead leave it up to businesses.

Which begs the question, how will the order be enforced?

With 125 municipalities within its jurisdiction, The Cook County Department of Public Health said they rely on said governments for cooperation. But how many will?

RELATED: Cook County bracing for COVID case surge after Christmas, medical experts say

From one end of suburban Cook County to the other, municipalities are quietly deciding to go down similar routes as Orland Park.

"The Village will leave compliance up to the individual businesses and enforcement up to the county," Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said in a statement. "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."

"The good thing is for January we won't have to worry about it," said Chris Dungan, co-owner of Hey Nonny.

Vaccines have been required of customers attending Hey Nonny shows for months. For now however, they've decided, vaccine mandate or not, the risk from the virus is too high. They will be shutting down for four weeks right after New Year's Eve. As for enforcement, Dungan, is not a fan of the "make your own choice approach."

"I would prefer that they would just pick a lane," said Dungan. "It puts the businesses kind of in the middle from the perspective that if a business enforces it and the businesses down the street don't enforce it, then they get angry customers."

Cook County tells Eyewitness News that it does rely on local municipalities. It can and does handle many complaints and inspections and will issue citations and even fines for repeated violations.