20 Chicago Businesses Cited During First Days of City's Indoor Mask Mandate: Officials

NBC News

A number of Chicago businesses were cited and more than a dozen others warned for violating the city's new indoor mask mandate in the days after it began this month, officials said Tuesday.

According to Chicago Mayor Lori Lighftoot's office, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) issued 16 "notices to correct" and 20 citations to businesses from Aug. 20 through Aug. 29. 

The city's new indoor mask mandate took effect on Aug. 20. A similar mandate for the entire state began Monday.

"As cases continue to rise in Chicago, BACP is putting all businesses on high alert and letting them know that we will be strictly enforcing the City of Chicago mask mandate," the mayor's office said in a release.

In the first weekend after the mask mandate began, BACP said it conducted 55 investigations, which resulted in at least 16 citations. During that same time, eight businesses were issued a "notice to correct" for things like failing to post "required mask mandate signage."

The following weekend, another 61 investigations were done, with five businesses cited for not abiding by the mandate, the department said.

The city's mask mandate applies in all indoor settings for everyone 2 years and older, regardless of vaccination status.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said masks will be required in "all indoor public settings, including bars and restaurants, gyms, common areas of condos and multi-residential buildings, and private clubs."

Chicago health officials said this mandate is similar to previous orders in that masks can be removed at restaurants, bars and other eating or drinking establishments by patrons "when they are actively eating or drinking."

Masks can also be removed for "certain activities that require their removal, such as beard shaves or facials," CDPH said, as well as by employees in workplaces that are not open to the public, if employees are static and stay at least six feet from all other individuals - like in office cubicles.

Masks are still mandatory on public transportation, in health care settings, schools, correctional facilities and in congregate settings.

Masking remains optional in outdoor settings, where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower, health officials said, but recommended for unvaccinated individuals in crowded outdoor 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."

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