Chicago reinstates indoor mask mandate due to rising COVID-19 cases; adds 8 states to travel advisory

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — Citing a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, Chicago is issuing an indoor mask mandate for residents regardless of vaccination status.

The mandate, which takes effect Friday for everyone over age 2, is similar to rules in place for much of last year. It will apply to gyms, stores, common areas of apartment buildings and in restaurants, though people will be allowed to remove face coverings while eating and drinking. Masks are already required in schools under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide order.

It comes after the city aligned with the CDC last month by recommending masks for those in “areas with substantial and high transmission.”

Additionally, the Chicago Department of Health added eight states and Washington D.C. to the travel advisory. They are Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

It now stands at 39 states and three territories. Any unvaccinated people traveling from these states and territories are advised to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago or quarantine for a 10-day period upon arrival.

Vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine or receive a negative test. All travelers must still adhere to federal masking rules.

“With the highly transmissible Delta variant causing case rates to increase, now is the time to re-institute this measure to prevent further spread and save lives,” said Dr. Arwady. “We continue to track the data closely and are hopeful this will only be temporary and we can bend the COVID curve, as we’ve done in the past.”

Since the end of June, cases have exponentially grown in the state with the rise of the Delta variant in the U.S.

On Tuesday, 3,639 new cases were announced along with 17 additional deaths. The current test positivity rate in the state is 6.2%.

Businesses seeking more information and guidance should visit Chicago.gov/reopening.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) is calling on the city to place the mandate on “individuals, not businesses.”

Retailers have led the way on safety throughout the pandemic, pioneering numerous practices designed to protect the health of employees, customers and our communities. We support an indoor mask mandate as it is a measured approach that prioritizes public health while ensuring beleaguered retailers can continue to safely operate without further restrictions that would slow down hiring and interfere with economic recovery efforts,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of IRMA. “However, like previous mandates, this once again misses the mark by failing to place the responsibility on individuals who refuse to comply, especially after employees were threatened or attacked for simply trying to uphold public health orders. We call on the city to place responsibility for abiding by this mandate on individuals, not businesses.

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