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New Illinois State Rule Says People With Proof Of COVID Vaccination Don't Count Against Capacity Limits; Rule Still Under Review For City Of Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Your completed vaccination card could be your key to bars, restaurants, and events.

A new Illinois state rule, in effect now, that says people who are fully vaccinated don't count against a venue's COVID-19 capacity regulations.

How is that actually going to work?

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported Tuesday, the City of Chicago is still considering and reviewing the new rule. But it is in effect elsewhere across the state.

We got in touch with a restaurant group with businesses in and outside the city to talk about the position they're in with the rule - and what it could look like for you.

According to the new rule, anyone with proof of full vaccination prior to an event or outing does not count against the COVID-19 related capacity limits – which are still in place across the state.

"You know, it's getting a little confusing," said Steve Hartenstein of the Stefani Restaurant Group. "How do you have the time to ask? And how do you - is it intrusive to ask somebody, 'So have you been vaccinated? Show me?'"

And with so many unanswered questions, Hartenstein said his restaurant group has not implemented any big changes in their restaurants outside of the city yet.

"What happens if it's a mixed table? What if one of us was fully vaccinated and one of us wasn't?" Hartenstein said. "It's going to be a bit of a challenge."

We reached out to see if the state is sharing any guidance this with business owners.

"Anything we can do to get more open is great," Hartenstein said.

A spokesperson for Gov. JB Pritzker's office said businesses will need to ask to see proof of vaccination from customers – and if they're not comfortable doing that, they can just continue to operate with current capacity limits:

"Businesses that wish to increase capacity limits should request to see proof of a negative test or vaccination from patrons. Those who are vaccinated are provided a card as proof and test results are usually available via some form of written communication. This is not a requirement for business, but just another tool they can utilize to accommodate more customers in a healthy and safe manner. If businesses do not want to ask their patrons about their vaccination status or test results they are free to continue abiding by the current capacity limits as the state moves to further stages of reopening."

Molina asked the Mayor's office and the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection about a timeline on when we could see this rule apply here. Right now, they will only say they are reviewing these new updates from the governor.

BACP issued the following statement:

"The City is reviewing the guidelines released by the State last week. At this point, Chicago's existing regulations remain in place, which means that individuals with proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test count towards capacity limits."

Molina as of late Tuesday was also awaiting responses to inquiries about the new rule from the city and state departments of public health. But we know the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked people who are vaccinated still to avoid any kind of gathering that is not small, so there are more than a few lingering questions.

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