Cook County will be joining Chicago in requiring proof of vaccination for indoor public spaces like gyms, restaurants, and bars. Officials announced this new rule on Thursday.
The mitigation aligns with the city’s mandate both of which begin on January 3. Cook County Department of Public Health co-lead and senior medical officer, Dr. Rachel Rubin, stated, “Omicron is here in suburban Cook County.” She added the variant “spreads incredibly quickly and easily.” The department is taking “measures to contain the spread.”
Rubin further stated, “We are concerned about how easily the omicron variant can spread among people, especially in crowded indoor settings. It is very important that we implement these measures to help lower the risk of transmission.”
Cook County’s order includes all suburbs except Skokie, Oak Park, Evanston, and Stickney. Anyone 5 years and older must show proof of their COVID vaccination at any indoor setting where drink and food are served. This includes entertainment venues, fitness facilities, bars and restaurants, and more. Individuals 16 years and older will also need to show identification matching their vaccine records.
Fitness centers include establishments like yoga studios, group fitness classes, health clubs, dance studios, and recreation centers, according to county officials. They further stated that entertainment venues include concert venues, movie theaters, music spaces, live theaters, bowling alleys, sports arenas, and arcades.
In addition to needing to show proof of vaccines, patrons will be required to follow the statewide mask mandate at these locations. These businesses are required to display signage about the mitigations and develop “a written protocol with details for how they will check vaccine status and how they will enforce this order.”
CCDPH co-lead and senior medical officer, Dr. Kiran Joshi, “These measures are temporary, and we hope they are in effect for a very short time. While there is so much that remains unknown about omicron, we do know that our healthcare system is being severely strained. We are implementing these measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and prevent severe illness requiring hospitalization.”
As of Thursday, the county suburbs were seeing over 500 new daily cases per 100,000 residents and the test positivity rate is 7.8% as of last week, according to Cook County officials.
Written by Sheena Robertson
NBC Chicago: Cook County Joins Chicago in Requiring Vaccine Proof for Bars, Restaurants, Gyms Next Year
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