Confused About Chicago’s Proof of Vaccination Policy? Here’s an Explainer

Local business owners discuss implementing the policy

Video: Erik Archambeault, owner of Rogers Park Social; Shirley Blazejczyk, co-owner of Blazin’ Cycle; and Darnell Johnson, owner of Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles, discuss implementing the new proof of vaccination policy. (Produced by Acacia Hernandez)

A public health order requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 took effect Monday in Chicago. The order will remain in place until the current surge of infections and hospitalizations has passed.

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Let’s walk through who needs to show what, and where.

Do I need to show my vaccination card?

Anyone 5 years of age or older will need to show proof they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter certain establishments.

Fully vaccinated means two weeks past the second dose of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccine or two weeks past the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Proof” can be in the form of the physical Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccination card or a photo with the person’s name, vaccine brand and dates of doses clearly visible. People over the age of 16 will need to provide a photo ID as well.

Where is proof of vaccination required?

In general, you’ll need proof to work out at the gym and to eat or drink indoors, which covers more than just “bars and restaurants.” Here’s a list of some of the public indoor spaces affected by the public health order:

— Restaurants, bars, fast food joints, coffee shops, tasting rooms, cafeterias, food courts, dining areas of grocery stores, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls and hotel ballrooms.

— Gyms, recreation facilities and 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.

— 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.

— Chicago’s major cultural institutions are requiring proof of vaccination as well, including the Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art.

— The Chicago Park District’s policy applies to adults over the age of 18 under the following circumstances: participation in indoor health and fitness classes (with an exception for special recreation), and use of indoor park spaces independently or participation in a sporting event. Proof of vaccination is also required of adult spectators if food or drink is being served. Adults and youth need to show proof in order to attend private events inside park facilities. 

Are there any exemptions?

Apart from children under the age of 5, who still must be masked indoors if they’re above the age of 2, there are some exceptions to the proof-of-vaccination requirement. It’s OK to:

— Pop in to use an establishment’s bathroom without showing proof of vaccination. Face masks are still required.

— Order or pick up carry-out food or make a delivery without proof of vaccination.

People who have received a medical or religious exemption must provide proof of that allowance, along with a negative COVID-19 test result received within 72 hours of entering a location covered by the public health order.

What places dont require vaccination proof?

— Houses of worship.

— Grocery stores (with a caveat about indoor dining sections).

— Locations in O’Hare and Midway international airports.

— K-12 schools and child care settings.

— Locations in buildings where use is limited to residents, owners or tenants.

— Food service establishments providing only charitable food services, such as soup kitchens.

— Hotels (indoor dining sections are not exempt).

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]

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