With COVID cases and hospitalizations still in decline in the city of Chicago, officials have said that several mitigations in place during the omicron surge will end later this month.
One of those mitigations is the requirement to wear facial coverings in indoor spaces. Businesses will be allowed to drop that requirement on Feb. 28, but officials also said that any establishment that wants to continue to impose their own rules will be allowed to do so.
The other mitigation that will roll back on Feb. 28 is the requirement to show proof of COVID vaccination at indoor establishments where masks are routinely removed to eat or drink. That requirement, put into place during the height of the omicron surge in January, will also be phased out at the end of the month, according to officials.
Officials have cautioned that the mitigations could return if a new strain of COVID causes numbers to once again move in the wrong direction, but with hospitalizations at their lowest level since before the delta surge in Aug. 2021, officials have expressed confidence that now is the time to remove those rules.
The one vaccine-related rule that will not be removed, at least according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is the mandate that city workers get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“If you’re an employee of the city of Chicago, you need to be vaccinated,” Lightfoot said. “We’re not worried about changing that. Not one bit. The rules were very clear. We announced them in August, and we gave ample opportunity (to get shots).”
Lightfoot said that such requirements are especially critical for first responders like EMT’s, police officers and firefighters.
“People calling are assuming that the people who are coming in are…exercising the utmost safety themselves and not putting other people who are calling for assistance at risk,” she said.
The city’s rollback of COVID mitigations is now in step with the rest of Illinois, which plans to remove its mask mandate on Feb. 28.