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Proof Of COVID-19 Vaccine Required For Chicago Bars, Restaurants, Gyms Starting Jan. 3. Here’s What To Know

Bars, concert venues and other indoor businesses will also be required to check if patrons are vaccinated against COVID-19.

A patron picks up a face mask after the bouncer checked an ID card at Sluggers World Class Sports Bar on Clark Street in the Wrigleyville neighborhood on June 27, 2020 during the first weekend of Illinois in Phase Four of reopening amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Face masks are required for entry at the establishment. | Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city will require some businesses — including bars, restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues — to start checking patrons’ COVID-19 vaccination status starting Jan. 3, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday.

The move, which mimics requirements in other major cities, comes as Chicago is facing a COVID-19 surge. Officials hope the measure will slow the spread of the Omicron variant, which now makes up the majority of new COVID cases throughout the country.

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said his group pushed for “as business-friendly mitigations as they could get” amid the surge since the industry is still in a “fragile recovery,” he said.

“Capacity limits would kill the the industry,” but vaccine passports would keep businesses in operation, Toia said.

Here’s what you need to know:

Where Will You Have To Show Your Vaccine Card?

Indoor dining spots

  • Restaurants.
  • Bars.
  • Fast food establishments.
  • Coffee shops.
  • Tasting rooms.
  • Cafeterias.
  • Food courts.
  • Dining areas of grocery stores.
  • Breweries.
  • Wineries.
  • Distilleries.
  • Banquet halls.
  • Hotel ballrooms.

Indoor fitness establishments

  • Gyms.
  • Recreation facilities.
  • Fitness centers.
  • Yoga, pilates, cycling, barre and dance studios.
  • Hotel gyms.
  • Boxing and kickboxing gyms.
  • Fitness boot camps.
  • Other facilities used for conducting indoor group fitness classes.

Indoor entertainment and recreation venues where food and drinks are served

  • Movie theaters.
  • Music and concert venues.
  • Live performance venues.
  • Adult entertainment venues.
  • Commercial event and party venues.
  • Sports arenas.
  • Performing arts theaters.
  • Bowling alleys.
  • Arcades.
  • Card rooms.
  • Family entertainment centers.
  • Play areas.
  • Pool and billiard halls.
  • Other recreational game centers.

What Businesses And Establishments Are Exempt?

  • Schools.
  • Day cares.
  • Houses of worship.
  • Grocery stores (though indoor dining sections inside grocery stores are included in the mandate).
  • Locations in O’Hare and Midway airports.
  • Locations in residential or office buildings that are limited to residents, owners or tenants of the building.
  • Food service establishments that provide charitable food services, like soup kitchens.

When Does The Vaccine Proof Requirement Start?

The order will go into effect Jan. 3.

Who Has To Show Proof?

Everyone 5 and older must show proof of full vaccination at eligible businesses and establishments.

People 16 and older will also have to provide an ID that matches their vaccination record.

Who Is Exempt?

  • People who are going into a business for less than 10 minutes to order and carry out food, deliver goods or use a bathroom.
  • A nonresident performing artist who does not regularly perform or render services in a covered location, or a nonresident individual accompanying such a performing artist, while the artist or person is in a covered location for the artist’s performance.
  • A nonresident professional athlete or a nonresident person accompanying such an athlete who goes into a covered location as part of their regular employment for purposes of a professional athletic/sports team competition.
  • People who have previously received a medical or religious exemption, provided they show the establishment proof of the exemption and a COVID-19 test administered by a medical professional within the last 72 hours.
  • Someone who is 18 or younger who goes into a covered location to participate in an activity organized by a school or after-school program offered by any pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public or non-public school.
  • A person who enters a covered location for the purposes of voting in a municipal, state or federal election or who is assisting or accompanying a voter for an election.

What Kind Of Proof Do You Have To Show?

Patrons will have to show one of the following as proof of vaccine:

  • A COVID-19 vaccination record card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • An official immunization record from the jurisdiction, state or country where they got their vaccine.
  • A digital of physical photo of such a card or record. The photo must show the person’s name, vaccine brand and the date administered.

Can Employees Test Out?

Employees at eligible venues who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask when interacting with patrons and must provide their employer with proof of a negative COVID-19 test every week.

How Long Will This Last?

Officials didn’t put a deadline on the vaccine proof requirement. It will remain in effect until the city is “through this Omicron-driven surge and the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity has passed,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

Will People Be Punished For Not Complying?

According to the mayor’s order, business owners and employees who don’t enforce the vaccine proof requirement could be subject to arrests and fines.

The order does not mention potential punishments for patrons who do not comply. Businesses can deny service to patrons who refuse to comply.

What Do Businesses Have To Do?

Businesses covered under the order must develop and keep a written record describing their protocol for implementing and enforcing the vaccine requirement, according to the city.

Businesses must also prominently post signs at each entrance and at least one sign inside the location informing patrons of the requirement.

And businesses covered under the order must check eligible patrons’ vaccination status.

How Can Businesses Get More Information?

Businesses can get more information and guidance at

The city will also hold information webinars 11 a.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m. Dec. 29 and 2 p.m. Jan. 4. To register, click here.

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