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On December 21, 2021, the City of Chicago issued Public Health Order 2021-2, which requires  certain indoor establishments (including restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues) to verify the COVID-19 vaccination status of patrons five years of age and older, effective January 3, 2022. Chicago joins New York City, Los Angeles, and certain Bay Area counties in implementing a proof of COVID-19 vaccine mandate. This news comes as cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant surge in Chicago and sweep the United States at large.

Covered Establishments

The order requires individuals to provide proof of full vaccination to enter the indoor areas of the following establishments:

  • Indoor dining

Indoor dining establishments are those where food or beverages are served, including, but not limited to, restaurants, bars, fast food establishments, coffee shops, tasting rooms, cafeterias, food courts, dining areas of grocery stores, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls, and hotel ballrooms.

  • Indoor fitness

The order considers the following to be covered indoor fitness establishments: gyms and fitness venues, including, but not limited to, gyms, recreation facilities, fitness centers, yoga, Pilates, cycling, barre, and dance studios, hotel gyms, boxing and kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, and other facilities used for conducting indoor group fitness classes.

  • Indoor entertainment and recreation venues where food or beverages are served

These venues include, but are not limited to, movie theaters, music and concert venues, live performance venues, adult entertainment venues, commercial event and party venues, sports arenas, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, card rooms, family entertainment centers, play areas, pool and billiard halls, and other recreational game centers.

The order does not impact the City of Chicago’s mask mandate, which remains in effect for all public indoor settings.

“Full Vaccination”

The order states that the definition of “fully vaccinated” will be determined by the latest guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Chicago Department of Public Health, whichever is more restrictive. For now, the City of Chicago considers individuals to be “fully vaccinated”:

  • 2 weeks after a second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

However, as protection from initial vaccines wanes, the definition of “fully vaccinated” may be modified to include booster shots. Businesses should keep apprised of any changes to the definition of “fully vaccinated.”

Coverage and Proof

The new vaccination requirement applies to everyone five years of age and older who “patronizes, enters, attends an event, or purchases goods or services” at covered entities. According to the order, individuals age 16 and older also must show a valid photo identification card. Under the order, valid proof of vaccination includes the following:

  • Vaccination card,
  • Photocopy of vaccination card,
  • Digital record or app, or
  • Printed record from the vaccine provider.

Are employees covered?

The order only applies to the patrons of covered business entities. However, the order provides that employees must still wear masks when interacting with patrons and submit weekly negative COVID-19 tests. According to the order, all “covered entities shall comply with OSHA standards 1910.501(e) & (g) relating to employee vaccination status and testing, regardless of the number of their employees.”

Exemptions to the Vaccine Mandate

The following individuals are exempt from the order:

  • Individuals entering an establishment for less than 10 minutes to order or carry out food, make a delivery, or use the bathroom;
  • Nonresident performing artists and accompanying nonresidents who do not regularly perform or render services at a covered establishment;
  • Nonresident professional athletes and accompanying nonresidents who enter a covered location as part of their regular employment for purposes of the professional athlete/sports team competition;
  • Individuals who have previously received a medical or religious exemption, provided such patrons show the covered entity proof of the medical or religious exemption and a COVID-19 test administered by a medical professional within the last 72 hours prior to entering a covered location;
  • Individuals 18 years of age or younger participating in an activity organized by a school or after-school program; and
  • Individuals voting in a municipal, state, or federal election; or, pursuant to law, assisting or accompanying a voter or observing such election.

Time Limit

According to the City of Chicago’s website, “The Public Health Order will remain in effect until the City of Chicago is through this Omicron-driven surge and the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity has passed.”

The order further states that it will “remain in effect until the Commissioner makes a written determination that the threat to public health posed by COVID-19 has diminished to the point that this Order can be safely repealed.”

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments and will post updates on the Illinois blog and in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.

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