CHICAGO, Illinois — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the nation’s third-largest city will require proof of coronavirus vaccination at restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor venues.
On Tuesday, Lightfoot said the requirement will take effect Jan. 3 for anyone age 5 and older.
It comes as the rapidly spreading omicron variant has led to a spike in COVID-19 infections. Lightfoot says she hasn't been as concerned about the virus as she is now since the early days of the pandemic in 2020.
"We will leave no options off the table when it comes to protecting the safety and well-being of our residents," Lightfoot said. "We didn't want to get to this point, but given the situation we find ourselves in, we simply have no choice."
On Monday, Illinois reported about 12,330 new COVID-19 cases, which is the highest daily total in more than a year. Chicago is seeing an average of 1,700 cases per day, up from about 300 per day just weeks ago.
"This new wave is seemingly more deadly than the last, spreading faster and causing profound harm," Lightfoot said. "To be clear, I've not been this concerned about COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic."
Much of that increase has been driven by the omicron variant, prompting fears of a winter surge.
If the employees of Chicago businesses are not fully vaccinated, the employer must make sure they are wearing a mask when interacting with patrons while also providing proof of weekly negative COVID-19 tests.
Lightfoot said the vaccine order will remain in effect until health officials deem it okay to lessen during this current wave of the pandemic.
Businesses that are not included in this order are houses of worship, K-12 schools, grocery stores, office buildings and residential buildings.
"This health order might pose an inconvenience to the unvaccinated, and the fact is, it's inconvenient by design," Lightfoot said.
This new order does not affect Chicago's mask requirement which also remains in effect for all public indoor settings.