COVID Vaccination

Proof Of Vaccination Could Cause Legal Trouble For Businesses

Illinois businesses can ask for proof of vaccination, but it comes with a risk.

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Business is coming back and, with it, uncharted territory.

With capacity limits still at 50% or less across the state, Illinois is now allowing owners to admit guests who are fully vaccinated without it counting towards the capacity limit.

Customers will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last three days.

While some applaud the state’s new measure, others worry it could open the door for lawsuits.

Steven Hartenstein, CFO of Phil Stefani restaurants, is happy the state and city are looking to help businesses during this pandemic but calls the measure impractical.

"What if it’s a split table; one person at the table is vaccinated, two of them aren’t? How do you police that? What’s going to happen?" said Hartenstein. "They’re going to come in to inspect your restaurant, they’re going to say you’re over capacity and say, OK, I have to go person by person? It’s not a practical thing."

Healthcare attorney Erin Jackson of Jackson LLP says asking for proof of vaccination wouldn’t violate HIPAA but it could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“If someone is denied access to a public space on the basis of not having proof of vaccine, and the reason they didn’t get vaccinated is because they have a disability that prevents them from being vaccinated, we’re potentially encountering a situation where someone is being excluded from a public place because of their disability," said Jackson.

A spokesperson with the governor’s office released the following statement on the matter:

“This is not a requirement for business, but just another tool they can utilize to accommodate more customers in a healthy and safe manner.”

“If businesses do not want to ask their patrons about their vaccination status or test results they are free to continue abiding by the current capacity limits.”

The City of Chicago on Thursday released reopening changes, which mandate that all patrons "continue to count towards capacity limits, even if they are fully vaccinated or have a recent negative test."

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