Stronger Chicago COVID rules opposed by Mayor Lightfoot, Illinois Restaurant Association

Stronger Chicago COVID rules opposed by Mayor Lightfoot, Illinois Restaurant Association

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Other cities—like New York, San Francisco and New Orleans—have implemented indoor vaccination proof mandates, the group argued, and Chicago should do the same to prevent community transmission of the delta variant, as well as the threat of new variants, before approaching colder weather drives more people indoors. 

But when asked about the council members’ pitch today, Lightfoot said the city’s focus will remain on boosting vaccination rates. She said she was “encouraged by the number of businesses and venues across the city” that have required vaccination cards or proof of a negative test for entry.

“We support it,” she said. “The best path forward is to focus city energy and resources on getting more people vaccinated.”

The Illinois Restaurant Association is against the rules the aldermen are seeking.

“We appreciate what some of the aldermen put out there,” said Sam Toia, chief of the restaurant group, “but we hope the administration will work with the industry to take into consideration the unique operations of restaurants. . . .We’re not really for the vaccine mandate, but we are in support of everyone getting the vaccine. It’s extremely difficult for smaller operators that don’t have the staff, training and financial breathing room to start turning people away.

“Can an owner afford to lose a five-top walking out?”

Lightfoot applauded President Biden’s executive order mandating vaccinations for large employers. “As I understand it, that’s two-thirds of the workforce,” she said.

The city’s indoor mask mandate went into effect Aug. 20, requiring everyone aged 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status, to mask up. Arwady has attributed that mandate for an apparent plateau in cases. The daily average case count is 466, down 10% compared with a week ago. See the latest COVID figures for the city and state in the charts below.

The city is vaccinating an average of 3,985 people a day, according to the Department of Public Health. Of the city’s total population, 61.5% have received at least one shot and 56.2% are fully vaccinated. 

Letter signers include usual allies Finance Chairman Scott Waguespack, 32nd, and Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd, as well as more progressive and socialist members: Alds. Carlos Ramirez Rosa, 35th; Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th; Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, 33rd; Andre Vasquez, 40th; Matt Martin, 47th; and Maria Hadden, 49th. All are members of the City Council Committee on Health & Human Relations.

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