Illinois Coronavirus: City says masks should stay in bars and restaurants until rules are in place


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely assemble without a mask in most settings, indoors or outdoors.

But will the immune be able to abandon the masks in the bars and restaurants of Chicago? Not quite yet.

City officials said on Friday they expected to “broadly follow” the new CDC guidelines, but local officials are still ordering face covers to remain in facilities as they develop a new set of regulations. commercial with the State.

This tenuous policy does not make things easier for restaurateurs already in business for 14 months.

“This only adds to the confusion for us,” manager Vanessa Cobbins said before the lunch rush at MacArthur Restaurant in the Austin neighborhood. “We had some issues trying to keep the masks on in the first place.”

Establishments have been required to enforce the mask mandate for employees and customers during most of the pandemic, at the risk of heavy fines. But without a consistent way to check a person’s immunization status, the CDC’s new guidelines reject nearly all of these local regulations.

Still, a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Public Health said masks remain the status quo and will remain whenever regulations are relaxed.

“We will work with the state, our industry and our trading partners to review and update the guidelines for specific parameters, and we hope to broadly follow these new CDC guidelines in most parameters,” the spokesperson said. Isaac Reichman in an email.

“This does not mean that the masks are going away, however. We also agree with the CDC that masks should be worn during travel, including using public transportation, and that unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks in most settings. “

Representatives of the Illinois Department of Public Health did not respond to messages seeking comment.

At Club Lago in River North, co-owner Guido Nardini said he expects the city to lift the indoor mask mandate soon, and that he will accept it – even if he is not. quite comfortable with the idea.

“In my secret heart, I would be relieved if masks were still needed, but someone above my salary is making this call,” Nardini said. “It’s pretty new and everyone kind of flies by the seat of their pants. We have to trust that these are decisions made by people who trust science and that it is the right call. What I do know is that I cannot apply something that the CDC does not apply.

This leaves restaurants “in a difficult situation,” he said.

“I’ll take people’s temperatures, prevent them from having more than six at the table, social distancing in my store – but I won’t ask for people’s papers.” I would be terrified to stay true to the principle and let my clients go to my competition when we are not in the darkest days of this pandemic, ”Nardini said.

New cases of COVID-19 per day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

The graph is not displayed correctly? Click here.

Statewide, coronavirus metrics are at their lowest in two months. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,841 new cases of the disease were diagnosed among 83,624 tests, lowering the average positivity rate to 2.5%. Authorities also reported 49 more deaths, including those of 14 residents of Cook County.

With the last 50,326 vaccines distributed Thursday, more than 60% of the state’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 37% are fully immunized.

Earlier this week, the city announced it would not count fully vaccinated customers against capacity limits. But officials are leaving it to bar and restaurant owners to come up with their own methods of verification, suggesting only vaccination cards or an electronic copy or photocopy of them as examples of “acceptable methods.”

People dine on the sidewalk at the Yellowtail Sushi Bar & Asian Kitchen last June.
Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times File

Pat Doerr, general manager of the Hospitality Business Association of Chicago, said his advice to operators is simple: “Just ask to see their card, whether it’s a photo on their phone or the actual card. , and say: “Welcome”. “

Compared to other trials that owners have faced over the past year, “this is the smallest inconvenience we’ve been asked to deal with in months. And it’s optional, ”Doerr said, noting that establishments can set their own rules.

Simple solution or not, “this weekend is going to be difficult,” he said.

“We’re all completely confused as to the rule, so customers will be too.”


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