CHICAGO — The proof of vaccine and mask mandates will be lifted on Feb. 28 in Chicago and in Cook County, officials announced Tuesday.
In a press conference with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, they announced that masks will no longer be required to enter restaurants, grocery stores or other indoor spaces. Additionally, the proof-of-vaccine requirement for business patrons will be lifted.
Masks will still be required on the CTA, in congregate and healthcare settings.
“It’s important to recognize this moment for what it is, a huge step forward,” Lightfoot said.
Following a judge’s decision which struck down the Pritzker administration’s appeal on requiring masks in schools, Chicago Public Schools will still require them. Currently, each Illinois school district has the right to make them optional.
“Masks remain a critical layer of safety against a virus that continues to infect and cause deaths every day,” the Chicago Teachers Union said in a statement.
As of Monday, 702 districts out of 852 have dropped mask requirements.
The 7-day-rolling-average test positivity, now 1.5% in Chicago, COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU stays have all reached the pre-defined “lower” risk category, Arwady announced. In a span of one week, the average daily case rate is down 37%, hospitalizations are down 29% and deaths are down 51%.
Cook County will follow suit and also lift proof-of-vaccine and mask mandates on Feb. 28.
This is a meaningful step that will increase consumer confidence and keep our restaurants on a steady path to recovery,” The Illinois Restaurant Association said in a statement.
At City’s Edge in Edgebrook, the announcement was a cause of celebration.
“Ready, ready to move forward,” Karen Prosel, a manager, said. “Start kind of a new chapter.”
The vaccine mandate of city employees remains in place, Lightfoot said.
The vaccination requirement for businesses has been in effect since Jan. 3.