Chicago will lift its indoor mask mandate and COVID-19 vaccination requirement for businesses such as gyms, bars and restaurants starting next week, officials announced Tuesday.
The mandates will be dropped Monday, the same day Illinois’ statewide mask mandate is set to end — although masks will still be required in Chicago’s public-transit system, health-care settings and “congregant settings” such as nursing homes, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference.
“In order to continue maintaining our progress with this pandemic, it’s vital that we must continue to work together to increase vaccination rates in every age category across every demographic,” Lightfoot said.
“But in the meantime, it’s important for us to recognize this moment for what it is: a huge step forward in our effort to overcome COVID-19. We would not have been in a position, even a few weeks ago, to this kind of announcement today.”
The decision was made because of declining daily COVID cases and other key metrics in the nation’s third-largest city, said Lightfoot, who tested positive for the coronavirus last month and experienced mild symptoms amid the surge brought on by the Omicron variant.
“Many residents may continue to wear masks in public spaces for a variety of reasons, even if they are vaccinated or as more mandates and advisories fade,” the mayor said, adding there are businesses that may also continue their mitigation efforts despite the end of the citywide mandates. Doing so is their right, she said.
“All this is to say, folks, be kind and conscious of your fellow neighbors and any decisions that they make for themselves to feel comfortable and protected,” Lightfoot said.
Mandate or not, she said, she plans to continue to mask up.
“Certainly, in the short term I’m going to be wearing a mask. That’s my personal choice,” she said. “Particularly in a restaurant setting, where I have no idea now knowing whether or not the people sitting in and around me are vaccinated — I’ll be wearing a mask.”