Chicago Requiring Proof of Vaccination for Indoor Spaces Like Restaurants and Gyms

by Samantha Whidden

Following the recent surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant, Chicago is now requiring proof of vaccination for indoor spaces.

The Chicago mayor revealed in a statement on Tuesday that the city will require patrons age 5 and older must show proof of full vaccination for COVID-19. Patrons age 16 and over will also need to provide identification that matches their vaccination records. “If any employees of these venues and establishments are not fully vaccinated, the employer must ensure that these employees both continue to mask when interacting with patrons. [They also must] provide proof of a weekly negative COVID-19 test.”

Chicago Vaccination Requirement is also to help safeguard the city’s healthcare system from a potential post-holiday Omicron variant surge. “Despite our diligent and equitable vaccine distribution efforts throughout this year, unfortunately, our city continues to see a surge of COVID-19 Delta and now Omicron cases. New steps must be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents.”

As of Monday (December 20th), there are more than 15,600 cases in Cook County, which Chicago is, alone. Chicago mask mandate also remains in effect for all public indoor settings. However, the new proof of vaccination order does not affect this mask requirement. The order will remain in effect until Chicago is through this Omicron-driven surge. And the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity has passed.

What is Part of the Chicago Vaccination Requirement?

Effective on January 3, 2022, the Chicago Vaccination Requirements will apply to the following public indoor areas:

  • Indoor Dining: Establishments where food or beverages are served. This includes restaurants; bars; fast food establishments; coffee shops; tasting rooms; cafeterias; food courts; dining areas of grocery stores; breweries; wineries; distilleries; banquet halls; and also hotel ballrooms.
  • Indoor Fitness: Gyms and fitness venues. This includes gyms; recreation facilities; fitness centers; yoga; Pilates; cycling, barre and dance studios; hotel gyms; boxing and kickboxing gyms; fitness boot camps; and other facilities also used for conducting indoor group fitness classes
  • Indoor entertainment and recreation venues where food or beverages are being served: Including movie theaters; music and concert venues; live performance venues; adult entertainment venues; commercial event and party venues; sports arenas; performing arts theaters; bowling alleys; arcades; card rooms; family entertainment centers; play areas; pool and billiard halls; and also other recreational game centers.

However, the Chicago Vaccination Requirement does not include houses of worship; grocery stores (though dining sections within grocery stores are part of the requirement); locations in O’Hare International Airport or Midway International Airport; locations in a residential or office building that are also limited to residents, owners, or tenants. It also does not include food service establishments that provide only charitable food services, such as soup kitchens. Meanwhile, Schools and daycares are not part of the order. 

Meanwhile, some individuals are exempt from the Chicago Vaccination Requirement. This includes those entering an establishment for less than 10 minutes; a non-resident performing artist who does not regularly perform or render services in a covered location such as professional athlete/sports teams; and those who previously received a medical or religious exemption.