A number of aldermen wrote a letter to Chicago's top doctor Thursday, asking the city to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for those visiting public indoor settings including restaurants, bars, movie theaters and concert halls.
In support of their recommendation, the eight members of the Chicago City Council's Committee on Health and Human Relations cited the uncontrolled community transmission of the delta variant, the threat of new variants, approaching colder weather as well as free and readily available FDA-approved and emergency-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
In Chicago's Lake View neighborhood, at Beermiscuous Tavern, proof of vaccination has been required for indoor customers since Aug. 3.
"Fortunately the wind blew the way we were already going," said employee Ryan Rutledge.
Bar employees said that if someone wants to drink one of the hundreds of local beers inside, all they need to do is show proof. But there are options for unvaccinated visitors.
"They're still allowed to shop with a mask, and we have a patio so [if they're] unvaccinated or forget IDs, [they] sit on the patio," Rutledge said.
New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans are among the cities that have started requiring proof of vaccination for public indoor spaces.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said it continues to monitor the results of vaccine requirements put in place around the world, but has yet to announce whether a mandate will take effect in Chicago.
"I applaud those venues requiring vaccination proof or a negative test to get admittance," Lightfoot said. "I think we'll see more of that. This is a conversation happening across every industry sector, and we support it.”
Some residents, however, believe a requirement would be a deterrent.
"I don’t think they should, but I can see why they’re doing it," one Chicagoan said.
Others say they don't understand the reluctance.
"There’s two sides of the coin," said Jose Montanez, who is visiting the city. "We came from Chicago to have a break from Texas. I’m glad to see there’s still a mask mandate, especially indoors, which is far from what we have in Texas."
The full statement regarding the city's stance on requiring proof of vaccination in indoor public spaces is below:
“Our goal as a City is that Chicago remain both open and safe, and at this point, we remain in good control of COVID compared to most of the rest of the country. We require masks for everyone age 2 and over in all indoor public settings and are in communication with the business community on other mitigation measures they can take to slow transmission and keep Chicagoans safe. We will continue to monitor locations around the country and the world that have put vaccine requirements for certain businesses in place, as well as the results of those requirements. Many businesses and settings in the Chicago area have already chosen to require proof of vaccination and we strongly support them. We continue to monitor the data daily and will adapt public health guidance as appropriate, as we have throughout the pandemic.”