Cook County, Illinois, Issues Proof-of-COVID-19-Vaccination Requirements for Restaurants, Gyms, and Indoor Entertainment Venues
On December 23, 2021, Cook County, Illinois, issued Public Health Order No. 2021-11, joining the City of Chicago in requiring certain indoor establishments (including restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, and entertainment venues) to verify the COVID-19 vaccination status of patrons five years of age and older, effective January 3, 2022. Cook County’s order does not impact Chicago’s order, and pertains only to suburban Cook County, except for Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park, and Stickney Township.
Under the order, “Businesses must post signage advising patrons of this vaccine requirement. Such signage must be posted at all entrances to the premises as well as prominently posted in an area visible to patrons and staff within the establishment.”
Businesses “must develop a written protocol providing details for how they will enforce [the] Order.” The county has provided a template plan.
The order requires individuals to provide proof of full vaccination to enter indoor settings “where food or drink are served for on-premises consumption, and health and fitness centers,” which include, but are not limited to, the following:
Indoor Dining Establishments
Including bars, breweries, wine/spirit tasting rooms, restaurants, private clubs, country clubs, banquet halls, dining areas within any public business that is ancillary to the main business (e.g., cafés within grocery stores, hotel restaurants/bars/lounges, other retail, etc.) coffee shops, food courts, and food halls.
Including hotel ballrooms and commercial event and party venues and nightclubs.
Indoor Recreation and Entertainment Venues Where Food or Beverages Are Served
Including movie theaters, live performance spaces for live theater and live music, sports arenas, skating rinks, adult entertainment venues, arcades, bowling alleys, play spaces, family entertainment centers, billiard halls, and venues for card playing.
All Indoor Settings for Recreation and Exercise
Including health clubs, gyms, fitness centers, hotel fitness centers, recreation centers, yoga studios, cross-training studios, cycling studios, dance studios, field houses, boxing and kickboxing gyms, and other facilities conducting group fitness classes indoors.
Patrons age five and older entering covered establishments must show valid proof of full vaccination (two weeks following the final dose of the vaccine or vaccine series) at covered establishments. Proof of vaccination includes:
a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card;
an official immunization record from the jurisdiction, state, or country where the vaccine was administered;
an app that provides a digital record of vaccinations; or
a digital or physical photo of such a card or record that includes the individual’s name, the vaccine brand administered, and the date the vaccination was administered.
Those age 16 and older must also show identification.
Are Employees Covered?
Employees must be vaccinated or show weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The order does not require employers to pay for the test. The order does not elaborate on the method of testing, but the order’s accompanying frequently asked questions (FAQs) document indicates that a rapid test in the presence of the employer is sufficient, consistent with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).
All businesses must comply with sections 1910.501(e) and (g) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act regulations relating to employee vaccination status and testing, “regardless of the number of their employees.”
“Indoors” means any part of a covered business with:
a roof or overhang that is enclosed on at least three sides; or
a temporary outdoor structure that holds multiple parties that has less than 50 percent of the sides open to allow airflow; or
an outdoor dining structure meant for individual parties that does not have adequate ventilation to allow for four to six air exchanges per hour.
All individuals age two and older who are able to medically tolerate a mask, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks when indoors in a public place.
These places include any common or shared space in (1) a residential multiunit building or (2) any nonresidential building, including but not limited to retail stores, restaurants, bars/taverns, health and fitness clubs, museums, hotels, personal services, performance venues, movie theaters, commercial buildings, event venues, healthcare settings, congregate facilities, on public transportation, and in transportation hubs.
Under the order, businesses must post signage advising patrons and staff that masks are required to be worn on the premises. “Such signage must be posted at all entrances to the premises as well as prominently posted in an area visible to patrons and staff within the establishment.”
Further, masks “may be removed at restaurants, bars and other eating/drinking establishments by patrons when they are actively eating/drinking while stationary. Masks can also be removed for certain activities that require their removal, such as beard shaves or facials.”
Individual and Establishment Exemptions to the Order
The following individuals are exempt from the vaccination requirements of the order:
individuals entering an establishment for less than 10 minutes to order and/or carryout food, make a delivery, or use the bathroom;
nonresident performing artists and accompanying nonresidents who do not regularly perform or render services at a covered establishment, but only while in the establishment and for the duration of the performance;
nonresident professional athletes and accompanying nonresidents who enter a covered establishment as part of their regular employment for purposes of the professional athlete/sports team competition;
individuals who have previously received a medical or religious exemption, provided such individuals show the covered establishment proof of the exemption and a COVID-19 test administered by a medical professional within the last 24 hours prior to entering a covered establishment;
individuals 18 years of age or younger who enter a covered establishment to participate in a school activity or after-school program offered by any pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public or nonpublic school; and
individuals voting in a municipal, state, or federal election, or, pursuant to law, assisting or accompanying a voter or observing such election.
The following establishments are exempt from the order:
houses of worship;
K-12 schools, preschools, and child care centers; and
indoor locations in a residential or office building the use of which is limited to residents, owners, or tenants of that building.
Investigations concerning possible violations of the order may be conducted by municipal staff, county health department staff, local police, or the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Citations can be issued for violations of any section of the order, and administrative action may be taken if businesses are noncompliant.
The order states that it will “remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency as declared by United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, or until such time the Cook County Department of Public Health makes a written determination that the threat to public safety has diminished to the point that this Order can be safely repealed.”