Feb 23, 2022 - COVID

Mask and vaccine rules to relax starting Monday

Illustration of a pattern of covid masks.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Citing improved COVID-19 metrics, city and Cook County officials yesterday announced a relaxation of mask and vaccination rules starting Monday, Feb. 28.

Why it matters: The move reflects dramatic improvements in local COVID conditions — including a 10-fold drop in cases since Jan. 4. — and is in line with state mask changes.

Details: While masks will no longer be required in stores, entertainment venues and restaurants, they will still be mandatory on public transit, in healthcare settings, and in some school districts, including CPS.

  • Customers will no longer have to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, venues and gyms, as part of a blanket city rule.

What they're saying: "I feel very confident that we are on the right path," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a press conference.

  • "But certainly in the short term, I'm going [to keep] wearing a mask. I was one of the people who caught COVID during Omicron and while I had a mild case, I don't want to put myself at risk."
  • "So, particularly in a restaurant setting where I have no idea whether or not the people that are sitting around me are vaccinated, I'll be wearing a mask."

Yes, but: The city's move does not prevent some venues from continuing to impose mask and vaccination rules of their own.

  • Chicago's Independent Venue League released a statement Tuesday afternoon asking patrons to stay "vigilant" and ready to follow specific venue rules.
  • "This means saving that picture of your vaccine card on your phone and keeping a mask in your back pocket," the statement said. "Every venue is different, and for many, these small efforts have brought relief."

What's next: Health chief Allison Arwady said mask rules could return "if we get back into a higher risk setting."

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