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Oak Park Requires Masks Indoors For Anyone 2 Years And Older

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Starting Friday, the city of Oak Park will now require everyone over the age of two to wear a mask indoors.

Oak Park Public Health Director Theresa Chapple-McGruder cited the rising number of COVID-19 cases throughout the state for the mandate. People have to wear a mask in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

The mandate is for all "businesses, multi-family residential buildings, health care settings, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, shelters, congregate settings, government buildings and on all forms of public transportation including in transportation stations and hubs."

"The Village has experienced a 750% increase in COVID-19 cases in July 2021 as compared to June 2021. Therefore, I have determined that additional mitigation measures are necessary under Phase 5 to protect the public health pursuant to my authority," the order issued by Dr. Chapple-McGruder states.

According to the city, Oak Park had 83 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in July. In June that number was 11.

The plastic protection at the checkout counter at The Book Table never went away, and employees at the store will keep masking up and requesting the same from customers.

"One of the things we didn't tell them when they were hired is they were going to be sitting around enforcing policies like this all day for people's general health," said owner Jason Smith. We're thrilled we've gone back to making the government be the enforcers and our staff is able to just say, 'It's the law.'"

But some poeple alking into stores and gyms were caught off guard Friday.

"They just said today we're wearing masks, and I'm like, 'Oh again?' And they're like, 'Yeah, because of the COVID is rising again,'" said resident WIlliam Merino, who is vaccinated and not too happy to masks indoors. "I'm sweating because I just came out the gym, and I'm like, 'Come on, bro.'"

At the start of the pandmic, Oak Park was the first city to issue the shelter in place order. Now it is the first requiring masks indoors again, leaving many to wonder if other cities will follow.

"We just literally were able to not wear a mask. Now we're back to wearing a mask. Is it going to be a forever thing? Who knows," said resident Omar Gabr.

People are not required to wear a mask while eating or drinking in restaurants as well as other public indoor settings that serve food and drink.

Dr. Chapple-McGruder recommended wearing masks outdoors if they can't stay at least a six-feet from others not from the same household.

That recommendation is also for playgrounds and other recreational spaces. The city's health department recommends that people get vaccinated as it has "proven effective against COVID-19 mutations, including the more contagious Delta variant."

The Illinois Health Department estimates about 30,300 residents, about 58% percent of all residents, have received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine. The health department estimates that roughly 29,500 Oak Park residents are fully vaccinated.

The city's health department is taking vaccination opportunities on the road next week to the high school and downtown Oak Park.

The mobile response van will be at Oak Park and River Forest High School from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., on Mon., Aug. 9 and in downtown Oak Park from 6 to 9 p.m., on Thurs., Aug. 12, at the popular Thursday Night Out weekly dining event.

Vaccines for COVID-19 are widely available to everyone 12 and older through pharmacies, medical care providers and other resources. Click here for links to take a look at vaccination options.

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