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Chicago to require proof of vaccination, photo ID, to enter restaurants, bars, and gyms

Starting on January 3, 2022, Chicago gym, bar, and restaurant patrons will be required to show both a photo ID and proof of vaccination to enter businesses.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Starting on January 3, 2022, Chicago gym, bar, and restaurant patrons will be required to show both a photo ID and proof of vaccination to enter businesses.

Proof of vaccination will be required for anyone over the age of 5 to be allowed inside for dining, working out, or entering an entertainment venue where food or drinks are served, according to the Chicago Sun-Tribune.

Places of worship, restaurants and bars at O'Hare and Midway airports, and grocery stores without indoor dining sections will be exempt, in addition to charitable food services, day care centers, and schools.

Those 16 and older will be required to provide a driver's license or other form of ID that matches their vaccination record.

The order will remain in effect until the city is "through this Omicron-driven surge and the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity has passed," the mayor said.

Employees will not be required to be vaccinated, but instead employers would be required to "ensure that those employees both continue to mask when interacting with patrons and provide proof of a weekly negative test."

"We will leave no options off the table when it comes to protecting the safety of our residents," Lightfoot said in a City Hall news conference. "We didn't want to get to this point, but we simply have no choice. ... This is what we have to do to keep our health system from being overwhelmed by this new wave."

Lightfoot said she hasn't been "this concerned about COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic" because of the Omicron variant which can "spread more easily."

When asked if "more extreme mitigations" will be necessary in the future, Lightfoot said the "answer lies with the unvaccinated."

"The last thing in the world that I want to do is stand before you at a podium like this and announce that we're shutting our city back down. That would be devastating. I don't want to have to take that step. But, it really depends on the unvaccinated," Lightfoot said.

"The unvaccinated are affecting the health and well-being and livelihoods of all of us," she added.

The changes will be made after the new year to avoid burdening restaurants and bars during the peak holiday party season.

Lightfoot agreed to the timeline and employee exemption at the request of Karr and Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia, who wanted to avoid exacerbating staff shortages.

"Usually in a dining room, a wait person has like a four-table station. Right now, they’re doing six- or seven-table stations. That's why people are waiting longer" for their food, Toia said.

"If you lose more people, what is the wait supposed to do a 10-table station? It ain’t happening. ... You go out to eat for the food. But you come back for the service.," he continued.

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