Chicago will require proof of vaccination in restaurants and bars


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CHICAGO (AP) – Chicago will require proof of coronavirus vaccination in restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor locations as the rapidly spreading omicron variant leads to an increase in COVID-19 infections, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Tuesday. .

Lightfoot said the requirement would go into effect on January 3 and apply to places in the country’s third largest city where food and drink are served – including sports and entertainment venues – and fitness centers. This does not apply to people who take take out, who stay in a store for less than 10 minutes.

Lightfoot said the measure is needed due to an increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations, with Chicago seeing numbers at similar levels to before vaccine availability. Chicago reports on average more than 1,700 new cases of COVID per day, up from about 300 per day just a few weeks ago, she said.

“To be clear, I haven’t been as concerned about COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic in 2020,” Lightfoot said. She also urged people to get vaccinated, saying it was the only way to get life back to some kind of normalcy and the best way to save lives.

The mayor’s office said more than 60 Chicago residents are hospitalized with COVID each day and an average of 10 die each day from COVID. Most of the hospitalizations and deaths from COVID in Chicago are from people who are not vaccinated, the mayor’s office said.

“The solution is the vaccine,” Lightfoot said.

Illinois reported about 12,330 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday – the highest daily total in more than a year. Much of this increase was due to the omicron variant, raising fears of a winter wave.

Federal health officials said on Monday that omicron accounted for 73% of new infections last week, nearly six times more in just seven days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the prevalence of omicron is even higher in parts of the United States, with the variant responsible for about 90% of new infections in the industrial Midwest, New York area. , the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced Monday that the city will require proof of vaccination for workers and customers of many interior companies starting in mid-January. New York and San Francisco already require it.

Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, called the Chicago requirement a “reasonably measured approach.”

“It’s definitely better than shutting down businesses,” he said.

Lightfoot said there will be a weekly testing option for unvaccinated employees, but no testing option for customers. Proof of vaccination can be a physical card or a photo of the card. The requirement does not apply to places of worship, elementary and secondary schools, grocery stores, and office or residential buildings.

Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner, said the requirement would apply to all people aged 5 and older and that they must be “fully vaccinated,” what the CDC currently defines as two weeks. after the second dose of the vaccine. For people 16 years of age and over, a valid photo ID must be presented as well as a vaccination record.

Lightfoot said city inspectors will monitor companies for compliance with the requirement. Warnings will be issued to businesses that don’t comply, but if a business repeatedly breaks the rules, “we’re going to bring down the hammer,” Lightfoot said.

Much of the omicron variant remains unknown, including whether it causes more or less severe disease. Early studies suggest that those vaccinated will need a booster to have the best chance of preventing omicron infection, but even without the extra dose, the vaccination should still offer strong protection against serious illness and death.

Arwady said 32.5% of Chicago residents aged 18 and over received booster shots.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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