(Bloomberg) -- Chicago will require patrons of indoor venues like restaurants and gyms to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination, and employees who haven’t been inoculated must show a negative test starting in 2022, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced.

The policy will take effect Jan. 3, Lightfoot said during a virus briefing on Tuesday with Allison Arwady, head of the city’s public health department. The mandate comes as cases of Covid-19 in the city and across the country are surging. On Monday, Chicago reported 1,776 daily cases, up 79% from a week earlier, according to health department data. The city’s positivity rate is 7.3%, up from 4.1% last week.

“You must show proof that you are fully vaccinated to enter bars, restaurants, fitness centers and entertainment and recreational venues where food or drink are served,” Lightfoot said. “We know historically and from the data these are the places that are the most risky places for spread, which is why we’re focused on them.”

The order will stay in effect until the city decides the threat to public health has “diminished significantly,” she said.

Cities including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Orleans have enacted similar mandates. As of Dec. 19, about 75% of Chicago’s eligible population has had at least one dose, according to the health department.

NYC, San Francisco Lead Cities in Demanding Proof of Vaccination

The order applies to patrons who are 5 years old and up. There will be a test-out option for unvaccinated employees at these venues, but they must mask when interacting with customers and provide proof of a weekly negative Covid-19 result. 

“This new requirement will not eliminate Covid risk, but it will help ensure a much safer indoor environment for fully vaccinated Chicagoans, as well as for the employees working in these higher-risk settings,” Arwady said in an emailed statement. “As we head further into the winter months, we must take this step now.”


The policy doesn’t apply to houses of worship or grocery stores or locations in the city’s airports. Individuals picking up food for carry-out are exempt from the requirement.

A number of Chicago restaurants have taken it upon themselves to close, some citing an exposure and others as a precaution. Heisler Hospitality, which operates eight bars and restaurants such as Lone Wolf Tavern and The Revel Room, is temporarily closing all of its locations, according to social media posts.

“Out of an abundance of caution we will be closed Monday and Tuesday to get tested and make sure our staff is healthy,” the post said.

And on Tuesday, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre suspended live-in-person performances of A Christmas Carol through Dec. 24. 

“To put it simply, if you have been living without having a vaccination, it’s time for a change,” Lightfoot said. “This health order may pose an inconvenience to the unvaccinated, and in fact it is inconvenient by design.”

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