Chicago will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings, but questions on how such guidelines will be enforced remain.
Among the concerns are questions regarding people who may lie about their vaccination status.
Chicago's top health official said additional guidance is expected this summer, particularly as major festivals and events, like Lollapalooza, resume at full capacity with a vaccination or negative test requirement.
"Certainly people have their cards, but that card is linked to a registry sort of at the state level," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "And the state and other states have been working around ways where people want to request their vaccine status themselves to be able to have some proof of that available electronically. And that's just technology that is evolving, so I don't want to speak to it. For sure, one way or another, we'll have some updated information."
For now, vaccination cards can be used to ensure status.
"There still is a lot of work happening around some of the different apps and ways to be able to verify vaccination. Somebody's vaccine card is good," Arwady said. "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 at the moment... that could be used, you know, if a restaurant or bar, business, you know, is wanting to check and wanting to take that on."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged the concerns Monday, saying in an interview with MSNBC that many people, including herself, may continue wearing masks regardless of their vaccination status for that reason.
"We’ve got to 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."
The city encouraged businesses unable to check vaccination status to continue requiring masks until capacity limits are lifted and the city reaches Phase 5 of its reopening plan.
"We strongly advise businesses to verify that individuals are fully vaccinated in order to follow the new mask guidance," CDPH's release stated. "However, we know that many businesses and other settings may not have the capacity to check people’s vaccination status. Therefore, we continue to strongly advise—though not require—masking policies for all indoor settings in Chicago until COVID-19 capacity restrictions are lifted and we enter phase five."
Chicago's new guidelines no longer mandate face coverings for fully vaccinated people, except for in certain places like schools and health care settings and on public transportation.
"If you are not fully vaccinated, you need to continue to wear your mask in all indoor settings," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a release Tuesday.
The city noted that masks will still be required for all residents, regardless of vaccination status, in health care settings, schools, correctional/congregate settings, and on public transportation.
City buildings will also continue requiring masks "at least until COVID-19 capacity restrictions are lifted."
Social distancing requirements already in place under the city's Bridge Phase remain in effect, city officials noted.
"Please be kind," CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a press conference. "Regardless of mandates, we expect many Chicagoans to continue to wear masks in public spaces for a variety of reasons, even after they're vaccinated. Even as mandates and advisories fade, someone might be immunocompromised, someone might have a family member who's immunocompromised or too young to be vaccinated. CDPH absolutely supports ongoing mask wearing for personal or family risks, even in the setting of vaccination."
Chicago's update comes one day after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the state's mask mandate is changing based on the new CDC guidance.
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.