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Concerns And Confusion Expressed From Businesses About Mayor's New Vaccine Card Mandate

CHICAGO (CBS) – With 2 million COVID cases in Illinois, the state passed that grim threshold after more than 16,000 cases were reported on Wednesday – a new daily record. Surging cases are why Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled her vaccine mandate Tuesday.

Now businesses and organizations are navigating exactly how it will apply. CBS 2's Chris Tye reports on how the mandate is playing inside the business community.

Spas don't need to check unless they serve food or drink -- neither do animal shelters, but still some ambiguity if an entertainment venue decides to stop food and beverage to skirt the new rules. Lots of moving parts as we're less than two weeks out.

"My kneejerk reaction was a little panic."

Tuesday's news whipped up anxiety in Chicago's food and beverage scene.

"I think for business owners, something concrete is crucial," said Alex Theoharis, owner of Ground Up Coffee.

At Ground Up Coffee in Greektown, most customers are in and out in minutes -- so proof of vaccination won't be a regular feature since they fall under the under ten-minute caveat. But they hope the city sets clear benchmarks for when to walk it back.

At Los Comales in Little Village, where 70 percent of customers are from out of state, they're concerned over confusion.

While thankful, the stepped-up rules won't torpedo holiday sales -- given the Jan. 3 start --it will make a sluggish January even more concerning.

It is also said that if houses of worship host events -- even away from a church or synagogue -- they are exempt from having to check vax status.

Weddings serving food and drink do need to check but it's not up to the caterer -- it's up to the venue's license holder.

If vendors are dropping off supplies at restaurants like alcohol or produce the city said Wednesday, they won't need to prove vaccination.

And because the confines are friendly and outside, the rules won't apply at Wrigley Field or Soldier Field -- but indoor sports venues will.

Back at the coffee house, they're working on how they will work it for customers choosing to stick around.

"Our clientele is generally understanding, you know there are sometimes tough convos and no business owner wants to be in that situation," Theoharris said.

A situation far from optimal, but close to becoming reality,

The building department, police department, and the Department of Business Affairs, and the City Health Department are some of the departments that can follow up on the new mandate. Business owners gathered virtually Wednesday for a Q&A with the city -- clearing up all the loose ends across dozens of industries. Another webinar is planned for after the new year.

Each business needs to keep a record of their plans and protocols and signage must be up to make it all clear. The mandate begins on Jan. 3rd.

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