Mask mandate returns! Chicago must mask up indoors

Tue. August 17, 2021 5:58 PM by Gerald Farinas

masking will be required in all indoor spaces

photo credit // atoms

City considers possible capacity limits, restricting open hours for bars, restaurants

Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a mask mandate for all indoor spaces in the city regardless of vaccination status. This includes bars and restaurants, fitness centers, grocery stores and retail shops, even common areas of private spaces like office, condo, and apartment buildings. The rule is effective August 20.

Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, M.D., said the mandate will remain as long as the city continues to identify more than 400 new COVID-19 cases per day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chicago is consistently reporting 400 new novel coronavirus cases and is classified as "high risk."

"We aren't anticipating at this point adding additional business restrictions," Dr. Arwady explained. "However, we're watching what happens with these metrics."

Other tools in Dr. Arwady's quiver include the possibility of reintroducing capacity limits and reduced hours establishments could remain open, as was done in the past with bars and restaurants.

The city's top doctor said that would be especially helpful if the numbers rise to 800 new COVID-19 cases per day or if hospital capacity is strained.

According to CDPH, Chicago is averaging two COVID-19 deaths and 18 hospitalizations per day.

Despite the mask mandate and reminders of what could happen next if numbers continue to climb, Dr. Arwady said it's not as bad as the last surge.

"In our peak in November and December, we were averaging about 2,500 cases a day, with some days getting close up to 3,500," she said. "400 cases per day is concerning, it's why we're acting. But in terms of where we've been as a city, it's not a cause for alarm. It's a cause for caution."

Bars, restaurants, and retailers in Lakeview and Andersonville, highly trafficked especially by LGBTQ patrons, are already sending messages over social media to bring their masks.

Signage is already going up in some shopfronts.

Bill Gubrud, organizer of this Sunday's annual Out at Wrigley, is reminding ticket-holders to bring their masks even though Wrigley Field is an outdoor venue.

"I know it's an indoor mandate but I'm sure you will have to use them to go into the washroom at Wrigley," he announced on Facebook.