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As Omicron Arrives, Chicago Ponders Requiring Vaccination Proof at Restaurants and Public Places

Also, the city mourns the death of a Turano Bread Company founder

A man holds up a COVID vaccination card
City officials are considering requiring proof of vaccination in certain public places.
Shutterstock

As COVID-19 numbers surge again in Chicago and and the first case of the omicron variant appears in the city, officials are now considering the possibility of mandating proof of vaccination in public places, including bars and restaurants.

“I certainly am more interested in that than I am in needing to do some of the major shutdowns,” Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s public health commissioner, said during a livestream yesterday, the Tribune reports. Similar policies already exist in San Francisco, New York, and, most recently, Los Angeles, but Chicagoans have been resistant to the idea of a vaccination passport.

There are currently no citywide vaccination requirements, though many restaurants and other businesses have set their own proof-of-vaccination policies. In New York City, the outgoing mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced Monday that every employee in the city working in the private sector would be required to be fully vaccinated by December 27. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already made it clear that she will not impose any similar requirements in Chicago, her press office says. The Illinois Restaurant Association continues to push for “all diners, staff, and visitors to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” according to statement from association president & CEO Sam Toia.

But many businesses have established their own staff vaccination policies, including the Alinea Group, whose staff, says owner Nick Kokonas, is 99.5 percent vaccinated and will reach 100 percent by the end of the month. “We simply wanted our employees and customers to be as safe as possible,” he writes in an email. “About 85 percent of employees were vaccinated anyways. The remaining 15 percent needed a reminder.”

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise since the weather turned got colder, forcing people to spend more time together inside, and there has been a sharp surge in the past week. As of yesterday, the city had an average of 828 confirmed cases per day, according to Block Club Chicago. At the start of November, around the time Gov. J.B. Pritzker was optimistic that the mask mandate could be lifted by Thanksgiving, that number was 294.

Renato Turano, co-founder of longtime suburban Italian bakery, dies at 79

Friends and supporters are mourning the death of Renato Turano, a co-founder and patriarch of 59-year-old Italian bread purveyor Turano Baking Company in suburban Berwyn. Turano, 79, died on Sunday, December 5 after an extended battle with ALS, family members announced on Facebook. “He was a constant source of knowledge, inspiration, and joy to all who knew and loved him,” they write. “His spirit will live on through our company and in our hearts forever.”

Rude service and dancing waitstaff entrance a new generation at Ed Debevic’s

Ed Debevic’s, the raucous faux-’50s diner that in October reopened after a six-year hiatus, has earned three stars in the Tribune from a seriously tough customer: critic Nick Kindelsperger’s 8-year-old daughter. “‘There’s a restaurant where the waiters are mean to you?’ She thinks it over, then queries: ‘If they are mean to me, can I dump a milkshake on their head?’”

Impossible Burger brand unveils a meat-free virtual restaurant in Chicago

The brand behind the meat-free Impossible Burger is launching a delivery-only restaurant this week in Chicago with a menu of vegetarian indulgences like the Chili Cheese Shop Burger, Impossible Pat-B Melt, and an Impossible Breakfast Sausage Burrito, according to a rep. Impossible Foods created the menu in partnership with California-based Dog Haus, which will offer items out of local outposts in Avondale, Lincoln Park, and the Loop. Customers can place orders online for delivery via third-party services including Postmates and Grubhub.

East Coast ghost kitchen behemoth buys a Chicago food delivery startup

New York ghost kitchen giant REEF Technology on Tuesday acquired three-year-old Chicago food delivery startup 2ndKitchen, the creator of an app that allows bars and breweries without food service to partner with nearby restaurants, according to a rep. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The service, which was a boon for drinking spots even before the COVID-19 pandemic, became even more valuable as safety rules shifted and city officials required bars with indoor service to serve food or provide menus for restaurants with delivery during bar hours.

Gale Gand starts brewing up CBD cocktails

Gale Gand, the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef and cookbook author, is getting into the CBD beverage game. Gand recently signed on as a strategic advisor with Jeng, a Colorado-based company that sells pre-mixed canned cocktails that substitute CBD for alcohol, as it enters the Chicago market. The beverage is currently available at 13 Chicago locations, including Beatrix Market, Double Clutch Brewing Company, Pomeroy, and Sunny Bowls, Gand’s own soup restaurant in Merchandise Mart.

Dog Haus Biergarten Lincoln Park

2464 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 935-3647 Visit Website

Ed Debevic's Streeterville

159 E. Ohio Street, Chicago, IL 60611 (312)374-8499 Visit Website

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