cdc mask guidelines

Are Masks Required in Chicago? Lightfoot Wants ‘Clarification' From CDC on New Guidance

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that she wants "clarification" from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its new mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people, calling the rollout "abrupt" as she said she personally would continue to wear a mask in public.

The CDC revised its guidelines on Thursday, saying that vaccinated individuals should not be required to wear masks in indoor and outdoor settings, with some exceptions.

Lightfoot appeared on MSNBC Monday morning and was asked, "Should people in Chicago wear masks or not?"

"Well, I think we’ve gotta get some clarification from the CDC. The rollout obviously is, the reporting has been, was a bit abrupt, and I think they’ve got a lot of clarification that they need to do," Lightfoot said. "I know for me personally, I’m gonna continue to wear a mask in public and I’m gonna encourage others to do so."

"We’ve gotta make sure that people are continuing to follow the public health guidance that has gotten us this far and masks I think are a big and important part of that," Lightfoot said. "To say, well, if you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask, that’s great, but what about all the other people that are out there that aren’t vaccinated and there’s no way to know that? So I think for the time being, most people are gonna continue to wear a mask outside, outside their homes, and I think that’s smart."

When asked what Chicago is telling businesses about the new guidance, Lightfoot said she's promoting vaccinations while keeping in mind that the city is not "out of the woods."

"I’m telling businesses a couple things: one, get your employees vaccinated, and we're doing everything we can to provide support to those businesses," Lightfoot said, noting a new series of vaccination events at office buildings downtown.

"We're also continuing to make sure that we are social distancing. Even as we open up, we've got good news happening here in Chicago, but by no means, whether it's Chicago or anyplace else in the country, are we out of the woods," she continued. "The virus is still here, the virus is still real, we're still seeing deaths every day, so we can't afford to feel like the virus is gone and suddenly we can just go back to 2019. That's just not gonna happen."

The Chicago Department of Public Health said last week that it was "supportive of this recommendation allowing people who are fully vaccinated to participate in most indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing."

"As the city noted earlier [Thursday] in its announcement further reopening Chicago, we continue to make progress on the main COVID metrics and have moved from high to moderate risk level for COVID transmission," CDPH's statement read. "We will work with the state and our industry and business partners to review and update guidance for specific settings, and expect to broadly follow this new CDC guidance across most settings. This does not, however, mean that masks are going away."

When asked Monday, Lightfoot said the new mask guidance doesn't change Chicago's goal of fully reopening the city with no capacity limits by the Fourth of July.

"It doesn’t change the timetable, but I think we’ve gotta clarify for people what we need to do to get to that point," Lightfoot said. "And again, we still have a long way to go. We’ve gotta bring down, or continue to bring down our case rates. Our percent positivity is heading in the right direction, but we’ve still got to get more people vaccinated, the long and short of it."

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said last week that he plans to revise executive orders to sync up with new masking guidelines.

“I firmly believe in following the science, and will revise my executive orders in line with CDC guidelines lifting additional mitigations for vaccinated people,” Pritzker said. “The scientists’ message is clear: if you are vaccinated, you can safely do much more.”

Those orders had not yet been revised as of Monday morning, when Pritzker said at an unrelated news conference that the state was "working on making changes" and would announce them "shortly."

While local guidelines will likely still be updated, here's a breakdown of when and where you'll need to wear a mask under the CDC guidance:

Where do I still need to wear a mask if I am fully vaccinated?

According to the CDC, "fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing," but there are some exceptions.

Those exceptions include places where masks are required by "federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

Fully vaccinated people should also continue to wear a well-fitted mask in:

  • correctional facilities and homeless shelters
  • If you travel, you will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations

Chicago's health department echoed those claims.

"We also agree with the CDC that masks should be worn during travel, including use of public transit, and that the unvaccinated should continue to wear masks in most settings," the department's statement read.

Some businesses have also announced plans to continue mask requirements at least for now. Others, however, have revealed plans to allow fully vaccinated shoppers to remove their masks.

"We encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping," a message on Trader Joe's website read Friday.

Shoppers will likely need to follow guidance for each individual business.

What if I am not fully vaccinated?

If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to wear a mask in most instances.

Those who are not vaccinated can go outside without masks in some cases, however.

Here's a look at what the CDC says is safe for unvaccinated people to do without a mask:

  • Walk, run, or bike outdoors with members of your household
  • Attend a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends
Contact Us