Chicago’s major COVID-19 restrictions are about to be lifted.
On Monday, the city will end its indoor mask mandate. Plus, restaurants, fitness centers and bars will no longer require customers to show proof of vaccination for entry.
The end of Chicago’s mask mandate will happen in conjunction with the state, which is also scheduled to lift its mask mandate Monday. The mask mandate and proof-of-vaccine requirement will also end on Monday in suburban Cook County.
There will still be settings that require masks, such as public transit, hospital settings and long-term care facilities, said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
And businesses can make a choice whether they want to stick with the restrictions.
“If things have been going well using some of those requirements, we fully encourage people to continue doing that,” Arwady said. “It’s just that we don’t need to require it at the city level for everybody.”
However, current guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend mask mandates in places with a “high” or “substantial” rate of transmission of COVID-19. According to the CDC, in Cook County, community transmission is at “substantial” levels and official guidance states that “everyone should wear a mask in public indoor settings.”
Arwady said she’s expecting the CDC to update their metrics and recommendations. With the increased use of at-home tests, she said it’s harder to make decisions just on caseloads or positivity rates.
Taking into account the low positivity rate is, Arwady said the city decided that they needed to reach three out of the four metrics for cases, positivity rate, hospitalizations and ICU bed capacity before dropping the requirements.
Currently, Chicago is at substantial transmission for COVID-19 cases, lower transmission for hospital and ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and low transmission for test positivity, according to city data.