Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference on Tuesday that the third largest city in the US will require all restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues to check the vaccination status of patrons aged five and older.
The new rules will go into effect on January 3 and will affect restaurants, bars, fast food establishments, coffee shops, food tasting rooms, cafeterias, food courts, dining areas of grocery stores, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls, hotel ballrooms, and other facilities for physical exercise and recreation.
Nevertheless, the new rules do not affect schools, day-care facilities, churches, airports and office buildings, Xinhua news agency reported.
Businesses do not have to check individuals for proof of vaccination if they’re entering to order and carry out food, deliver goods, or use the bathroom; the new rules also exempt some performing artists and professional athletes from the vaccine requirement. Individuals with religious exemptions are also exempt, but they will have to provide a negative Covid test, the Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday.
Chicago is recording an average of 1,776 new Covid cases a day, the highest in about a year, and a 7.3 per cent positivity rate, both up from last week. Hospitalisations are averaging 62 a day, up 12 per cent from the prior week, while deaths are at 10 a day.
Across the state of Illinois, health officials on Tuesday reported 10,264 new confirmed and probable cases of Covid, raising the average number of new daily cases to 10,590 over the past week, up from 7,199 per day a week earlier and 4,057 a month ago.
As of Monday night, 4,008 coronavirus patients were in hospitals across Illinois, the most in a single day since December 30, 2020. Over the past week, the state has averaged 3,829 Covid patients per day, the highest level since early January.
Deaths due to Covid are also on the rise, with 63 reported Tuesday, bringing the average number of daily deaths to 51 over the past week. That is the highest level since early February. In all, Illinois recorded 27,291 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.
As of Tuesday, nearly 68 per cent of the state’s eligible population, those aged five and older, have been fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Nationwide, the extremely contagious Omicron variant makes up more than 73 per cent of new Covid cases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.