Chicago Officials Tackle Issue of Businesses Seeking Proof of Customers' COVID-19 Vaccinations

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Although the city of Chicago is not planning to require residents to carry a “vaccine passport,” city health officials say that businesses will still be allowed to request proof of COVID-19 vaccination, and that residents have plenty of ways to provide that proof if necessary.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, addressed the proof of vaccine topic during a press availability on Tuesday. She says that there has been a “larger conversation” between city health officials and business owners about the idea of proving that customers have received their COVID shots, especially as COVID mask mandates go away for those who have received the shots.

“Part of this is that there still is a lot of work happening around some of the different apps and ways to be able to verify vaccination,” she said. “Somebody’s vaccine card is good. If you have your CDC vaccine card – you have a picture, you have a photocopy of your vaccination card, you have a printout from your doctor’s office, etc. – right in the moment – that could be used if a restaurant or bar, (or) business, is wanting to check and wanting to take that on.”

Under new CDC guidance, individuals who have received COVID vaccine shots are no longer recommended to wear masks in outdoor or indoor settings, outside of a few exceptions, including on public transit, on airplanes, or in crowded spaces.

In the city of Chicago, residents who are vaccinated are exempt from capacity limits at businesses, according to new guidance released by CDPH, making the idea of proving that a customer has been vaccinated a very important question for business owners.

Arwady did say that owners who “don’t want to be put in the position of being the vaccine police” should retain their policies on mask wearing and capacity limits.

“Our advice is that settings that don’t want to check vaccine would continue to require masks in indoor settings,” she said. “Again, it’s not a mandate. It’s an advisory. We are still making a lot of progress here, and I want to make sure while we continue to make that progress that we’re making settings as safe as they can be.”

The state of Illinois is on track to move to Phase 5 of its reopening plan on June 11, which would eliminate nearly all coronavirus mitigation rules. It is not known at this time if the city of Chicago will move along with the state into that final phase, or if the city will stick to its original goal of July 4 for a full reopening.

"It doesn’t change the timetable, but I think we’ve got to clarify for people what we need to do to get to that point," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said earlier this week. "And again, we still have a long way to go. We’ve got to 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."

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