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‘We Have No Choice’: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Announces Proof Of Vaccination Requirements To Enter Restaurants, Gyms

Ailan Evans

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new policy Tuesday mandating certain businesses to require proof of vaccination.

“New steps must be taken to protect the health and well-being of our residents,” Lightfoot announced in a statement. “This public health order requiring proof of vaccination to visit certain indoor public places is a necessary measure to ensure we can continue to enjoy our city’s many amenities as we enter the new year.”

Chicago’s Commissioner of Public Health Allison Arwady issued a health order mandating that, starting Jan. 3, 2022, certain Chicago businesses, including indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment, will require customers to present proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to enter. The order exempts individuals with religious and medical exemptions, so long as they produce a negative COVID-19 test.

“This new requirement will not eliminate COVID risk, but it will help ensure a much safer indoor environment for fully vaccinated Chicagoans, as well as for the employees working in these higher-risk settings,” Arwady said. “As we head further into the winter months, we must take this step now.”

The mandate also carves out exemptions for certain professional performers, and doesn’t require businesses to check people’s vaccine status if they’re entering the establishment to use the restroom, order food to go, or picking up a delivery.

The announcement follows the emergence of the Omicron variant which has spread rapidly across the United States and now makes up the majority of COVID-19 cases. Illinois has averaged 3,829 COVID-19 patients per day over the past week, the highest rate since early January, according to The Chicago Sun-Tribune.

“We didn’t want it to get to this point, but given the situation we find ourselves in, we have no choice,” Lightfoot tweeted Tuesday.

“With Omicron, I do expect to see many more COVID reinfections and breakthrough cases, but luckily the vaccines continue to protect very well against severe illness, hospitalization, and death—and even more so when people have also had a booster shot,” Arwady said.

Chicago is the second major city this week to implement vaccine mandates for businesses, following Boston’s decision to require proof of vaccination Monday.

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