Due to recent increases in the number of new coronavirus cases in the city, officials with the Chicago Department of Public Health have announced that a new indoor mask mandate will go into effect Friday for all residents 2 years of age and older.
According to city officials, the mandate was implemented as the average number of daily new COVID cases in the city surpassed the 400 mark this week.
Beginning Friday, all individuals age 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask while indoors in public settings.
“With the highly transmissible Delta variant causing case rates to increase, now is the time to re-institute this measure to prevent further spread and save lives,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “We continue to track the data closely and are hopeful this will only be temporary and we can bend the COVID curve, as we’ve done in the past.”
Masks will be required in all indoor public settings, including bars, restaurants, gyms and private clubs.
Masks can be removed at restaurants, bars and other establishments while customers are eating or drinking, according to the CDPH press release. Masks can also be removed for certain activities, including beard shaves and facials.
Masks are not required for employees that work in settings that are not open to public, and those employees who work in static spaces and where it is possible to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from other individuals.
Arwady says that the department does not plan to institute other coronavirus mitigation measures, including capacity limits, as other metrics still remain in “low-risk” territory, including hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths related to the virus.
The department credits those metrics to the widespread availability of the COVID vaccine, with more than 70% of Chicago adults having received at least one dose.
Even still, Arwady says that it is critical to act now to avoid further spread of COVID, and to beat back advances made by the delta variant in the city.
“But with case counts now rising back to this level, the risk has increased for everyone, even those who are vaccinated,” Arwady said. “The time to act is now to prevent further spread. Chicago residents who have not yet been vaccinated should get a vaccine as soon as possible—it will protect you and your loved ones from the risk of serious illness or even death.”