Mask and vaccination cards will no longer be necessary when entering most public spaces.
Starting Monday, February 28th you will no longer have to wear a mask or present a vaccine card when entering most public spaces in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady yesterday announced that the mask mandate and vaccine requirements will be lifted for all gyms, bars, restaurants, and indoor settings where food is served.
The announcement comes roughly two weeks on from when Governor J.B. Pritzker marked Monday, February 28th as the final day of the mask mandate for the whole of Illinois. The City of Chicago then decided it would opt to wait and only follow suit if three of the four basic COVID-19 transmission metrics were at their two lowest levels for two weeks.
At the start of this week, Chicago entered the requisite “lower” risk range for three of the four categories. Dr. Allison Arwady revealed that the average daily number of cases has dropped from 871 at the start of the month to 278 this week which is dwarfed by the over 10,000 cases diagnosed during the city’s peak of the Omicron surge back at the end of December.
“Based on key data, it looks as if the worst of the Omicron surge is behind us and we will be able to safely remove these emergency measures instituted to protect the health and safety of our residents,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Tuesday’s press release. “It’s important for us to recognize this moment for what it is: a huge step forward in our effort to overcome COVID-19.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot continued to clarify, however, that the mask and vaccine mandates will still be required in some public spaces. “This removal of restrictions is only applicable to certain public locations. Masks will continue to be required on public transit, in health care settings, and in other congregate spaces as per federal mandates and CDC guidance.” Venues and institutions will also be free to maintain masks and vaccine requirements as they see fit.
City officials expect to see a small rise in cases from next week when mitigations are lifted but they don’t expect it to rise significantly. According to Dr. Allison Arwady, “the risk now allows it”. In a gathering of 50 people, there is now a one-in-five chance someone has COVID-19 which is down from a one-in-two chance last week. The test positivity rate is also now down to 1.5%.
“I feel very confident that we are on the right path, that we are moving in the right direction,” said Lightfoot said. “But make no mistake: I will not hesitate, nor will Dr. Arwady to take steps to protect lives in this city.”
More information and a video of Tuesday’s Covid-19 update can be found at chicago.gov/city.