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Exploding COVID-19 Cases Force Cancellations Of Shows, New Proof Of Vaccination Rules In Chicago, And Disappointed Tourists

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The exploding number of COVID-19 cases is causing rising uncertainty heading to the holiday weekend, while new rules in Chicago will soon require people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination nearly everywhere.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, there was mixed reaction Tuesday night as Chicagoans and tourists learned of what will soon be needed to dine in and enjoy so many aspects of the city. Proof of vaccination will be a must in the New Year, and more and more venues are canceling shows.

The Goodman Theatre announced Tuesday that it has suspended performances of "A Christmas Carol" through Friday after a reported COVID-19 exposure within the theatre company and increased COVID-19 transmission overall.

Also canceled was the Tuesday production of "Frozen" at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

"We came a long way," said Adam Cooper, who was visiting from Michigan. "We planned a whole trip - you know, a room and everything."

With the holiday season in full swing, Christmas 2021 is turning out to be another COVID Christmas – leaving so many disappointed. Cooper and his family drove in for Ann Arbor, Michigan only to find out their son and daughter would not be able to hop on the Polar Express.

"The lady came up and said, 'We're really sorry about this - and you're going to be refunded fully - but we had to cancel it, because all the the performers in the show - we had too many test positive for COVID,'" Cooper said.

And more cancellations keep popping up. The crowd outside the Chicago Theatre never made it through the doors Tuesday night to see Barry Manilow before a tweet went out saying that show was canceled due to COVID cases too.

The Omicron variant is sweeping the nation, including Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday said that is the reason starting Jan. 3, anyone 5 or older must show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 even to enter a restaurant.

Restaurants, bars, gyms, and entertainment venues that serve food or drinks will be required to have customers age 5 and up show proof they've been fully vaccinated, effective Jan. 3, 2022. 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.

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.

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.

The statewide mask mandate remains in place for indoor public settings.

Such a rule has already been in place for some time in New York City, and were recently expanded to include children as young as 5. Restaurant owners are furious to think they would have to turn families with children away.

"To bar children from entering our establishment is ludicrous," said Tyler Hollinger, owner of the Festival Café at 1155 Second Ave. on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. "It's probably going to cause a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction."

Mayor Lightfoot wants to avoid a similar disruption in Chicago – which is why she said proof of vaccination did not happen immediately. But even with a 13-day notice, many children won't meet the mandate.

"We couldn't," said Michigan visitor Jennah Cooper. "She wouldn't be fully vaccinated at that point."

Meanwhile, while so many Broadway in Chicago shows are canceling, so far we have not seen venues canceling New Year's Eve celebrations next week.

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