Chicago will not be following New York City’s lead in requiring diners to show proof of vaccination before eating and drinking indoors at restaurants and bars. However, Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady did leave the door open for Chicago to adopt the policy in the future.
“At this point, we’re interested in this,” she said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “We’ll be watching to see how this plays out, but we don’t have a current plan to do something like that at the city level.” The reason, she said, is Chicagoans have been more resistant than New Yorkers to the idea of a vaccination passport.
New York’s order, announced Tuesday morning, would go into effect August 16. Residents can show proof of vaccination with a paper card or register on the city’s forthcoming app. Chicago has no plans to develop an app, though Arwady said the city is working on a “tech piece” for businesses who want to keep track individually. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has not supported a statewide passport, though he was open to finding an electronic solution. Events, like Windy City Smokeout, utilized the CLEAR app so attendees could show proof of vaccination.
As Chicago officials last week stopped short of a mandate in offering new guidance on facial coverings, Arwady said she was pleased that bars and restaurants were independently requiring masks and vaccination status, and she once again urged everyone — even people who are vaccinated — to wear a mask indoors: “The delta variant is here,” she said. “We’ve been watching it rise over the last few weeks. I expect that to continue.”
Last week, for the first time since May, the city passed the 200 cases per day threshold, which Mayor Lori Lightfoot had said was the point at which she would consider reinstating the city’s mask mandate. The current weekly average is 234 cases per day (up from 39 a month ago), with a 3.3 percent test positivity rate. New York’s weekly average is 1,276, but with a 1 percent positivity rate. For context, Arwady has compared the current rise to what Chicago experienced in April.
Arwady also dismissed concerns that the four-day Lollapalooza music festival last weekend in Grant Park would prove to be a superspreader event. She said she visited the festival incognito in a hat and glasses and reported that workers at the gate checked her credentials to make sure she was vaccinated. Meanwhile, gatekeepers polled festivalgoers about their vaccination status and public health workers were on hand taking tallies. Based on this information, Arwady determined that there had been a 90 percent vaccination rate. However, there were also reports of fake vaccination cards at the festival.
- Chicago won’t require vaccine passports like New York for now, but ‘we’ll be watching to see how this plays out,’ health commissioner says [Tribune]
- NYC to Require Proof of Vaccination to Dine Indoors Starting August 16 [Eater NY]
- Vaccine passports can liberate America [Vox]
- Kelly Bauer [Twitter]
- Vashon Jordan Jr. [Twitter]
- COVID Dashboard [City of Chicago]