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Cook County Suburbs To Require Proof Of Vaccination At Restaurants, Bars, Gyms, Entertainment Venues

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cook County officials are following Chicago's lead, and will require many indoor businesses in the suburbs to require customers ages five and older to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 beginning in the new year.

The Cook County Department of Public Health announced, beginning Jan. 3, 2022, customers age 5 and up will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, and entertainment venues that serve food or drink in suburban Cook County. Customers will have to provide a valid photo ID if they're at least 16 years old, as well as their vaccination card or a photocopy; or else a digital record, or printed record of their vaccination status.

Skokie, Evanston, Oak Park, and Stickney Township have their own local health departments, and can set their own regarding whether proof of vaccination will be required at any indoor businesses.

"Earlier this year, we had hoped that we were on a path to finally put the pandemic behind us," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement. "But unfortunately, with the dual threat presented by the Delta and Omicron variants, and with cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising to new heights across Cook County, we must once again reassess and re-align our strategies with what the science is telling us. And the science is clear - it will take all of us to beat COVID; people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths getting vaccinated and taking common sense measures to stop the spread of the virus."

CBS 2's Tim McNicholas reports, in Orland Park not every business is sure that they'll follow the rules. In fact, the village mayor said he expects many local businesses to not follow them.

Fox's Pizza in Orland Park draws dozens of people for lunch. Starting January 3rd, Cook County expects the restaurant to check every customer's vaccine card.

"Its an undue hardship."

President Frank Fox disagrees with the vaccine requirements for staff and customers.

"They're saying that we have to make sure that they took their medicine. Why are we checking? And it could falsified. A million ways. I don't understand why they're throwing that on us," Fox said.

"The position we've taken is, allow people to make a choice."

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said the village board will vote next week on a resolution to formally oppose the rule and not enforce it.

"I think its unacceptable. And at the end of the day we're targeting restaurants, entertainment centers and gyms yet again," Pekau said.  "There is nothing that indicates, no data that supports, that those businesses are the source of COVID."

But The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk of COVID-19 spread increases in a restaurant or bar setting as interactions within six feet of others increase. Nonetheless, Pekau expects the village resolution to pass.

"If the state or county wants to come take us to court over it, I suppose they can," Pekau said.

The village took the same approach back to the statewide indoor mask mandate with a vote back in September. So Fox said he doesn't enforce masks.

"It's a choice for the people who come here to wear their mask or the staff to wear their mask," Fox said.

But when it comes to vaccines, he plans to follow the rules—reluctantly. The rules mirror those that Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced earlier this week for the city of Chicago. The city's proof of vaccination requirement also goes into effect on Jan. 3.

People who have been granted a religious or medical exemption from vaccination by their employer will be exempt, but must show proof of the exemption, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours.

Also exempt are:

  • Customers who are only entering a business for 10 minutes or less to pick up an order.
  • Nonresident performing artists who do not regularly perform or render services in a covered location, or a nonresident individual accompanying such a performing artist, while the performing artist or individual is in a covered location for the purposes of such artist's performance;
  • Nonresident professional athletes or a nonresident individuals accompanying such professional athletes, who enter a covered location as part of their regular employment for purposes of the professional athlete/sports team competition;
  • Anyone under age 18 who enters a covered location to participate in an activity organized by a school or after-school program offered by any pre-kindergarten through grade twelve public or non-public school; and
  • Individuals who enter for the purposes of voting in a municipal, state, or federal election; or, pursuant to law, assisting or accompanying a voter or observing such election.

Unvaccinated employees can test out of the vaccination requirement, according to the mayor. Those employees must continue to wear masks when interacting with customers, and provide proof of a weekly negative COVID-19 test.

Businesses will be required to post signs regarding the proof of vaccination requirement.

County health inspectors will be checking on businesses to make sure they comply with the new mandate. Violators face possible fines

Churches, schools, grocery stores, office buildings, and residential buildings also are exempt from the proof of vaccination mandate, according to the mayor. However, dining sections inside grocery stores are not exempt.

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