December 8, 2022

Chicago, Cook County to lift mask, vaccine proof requirements for most indoor settings Monday

The city of Chicago will be lifting most COVID-19 mitigation mandates by the end of the month, but private businesses may still require masks and vaccine proof.

Since the beginning of the year, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has mandated most businesses require customers to show proof of vaccination for entrance. The city also has had a mask mandate for indoor settings. Lightfoot said the announced end of the mandates on Feb. 28 doesn’t have to do with a lawsuit challenging the vaccine mandates for customers.

“We follow the data and the science,” Lightfoot said. “Look, I’m a 30-year veteran litigator. I’m not afraid of a lawsuit.”

The Liberty Justice Center on Feb. 10 filed a federal lawsuit against Chicago and Cook County to end their “illegal and discriminatory proof of vaccination’ requirements.”

“Chicago and Cook County residents claim the orders violate the rights of equal protection, due process and freedom of religion provided by the U.S. Constitution, while also violating state law, the Illinois state constitution and Chicago’s own municipal code,” Liberty Justice Center said in a statement.

Lightfoot said businesses can choose to continue the requirements for vaccine proof and masks after Feb. 28.

Chicago Department of Public Health Director Dr. Alison Arwady said the COVID-19 statistics are heading in the right direction for mandates to be lifted.

“We’re at a place where those can be lifted at the city level,” Arwady said. “I, of course, remain supportive of businesses and other settings that continue them, particularly in the short term.”

The Illinois Restaurant Association said Tuesday’s announcement is “an encouraging sign of better times ahead” and “will increase consumer confidence.”

The Chicago Independent Venue League said in a statement every venue is different and for patrons to keep vaccine cards and masks handy for where they may still be required.

Cook County plans to follow Chicago’s lead. The state’s most populous county will lift its mask and proof-of-vaccine requirements on Feb. 28.

“We are glad to be able to move with the rest of the state to lift these measures,” Cook County Department of Public Health Co-lead and Senior Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Rubin said in a statement. “We thank the residents for their cooperation, and the suburban Cook County business community for their support and compliance of the mask mandate and vaccination requirements.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced earlier this month his statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted on Feb. 28, but the mandate for schools has been blocked. He’s appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court. It’s unclear if the state’s highest court will take up the case.

Per Tuesday’s announcement from Lightfoot, mask mandates will still be in place for schools in Chicago, despite hundreds of districts across the state going mask optional following the governor’s order being blocked by a legislative panel. But, Arwady sees that possibly changing.

“We expect the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to likely announce some updated guidance there, probably within the next week or two,” Arwady said.

Arwady reiterated what she has previously said that this will likely be treated like the seasonal flu.

This article was originally posted on Chicago, Cook County to lift mask, vaccine proof requirements for most indoor settings Monday

Sydney Boles