Following new masking guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, Chicago officials announced the city will no longer require mask usage for fully vaccinated individuals—but don't toss your masks, bandanas and other face coverings away just yet. Because of the difficulty in verifying vaccination status of individuals, the Chicago Department of Public Health advises that businesses maintain their mask mandate for the time being.
"We continue to strongly advise, though not require, masking policies for all indoor settings in Chicago until COVID capacity restrictions are lifted and we are in Phase 5," CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady said in a May 18 press conference announcing the new guidelines.
Mandated mask usage also remains in place in all city buildings, healthcare settings, schools, correctional facilities and on public transportation, regardless of vaccination status. Plus, non-vaccinated Chicagoans will still be required to wear masks in all settings. Businesses are advised—though not required—to check the vaccination status of unmasked patrons. With so many businesses already short-staffed and still cautiously approaching business as usual, there's a decent chance that many will maintain the masking policies that have been put in place over the past few months.
If you're unsure of an individual businesses' mask policy, call ahead or check signage before entering; the new guidance recommends businesses place a sign on the door indicating whether masks are required inside. And please, don't be a jerk to folks who are still masking up, or businesses that decide to keep mask requirements: In the press conference, Arwady also acknowledged that many Chicagoans will continue to wear masks regardless of the new guidelines for various reasons.
"[Mask-wearing] is a tangible sign that I'm thinking about someone besides myself, that I'm thinking of the greater good," Arwady said, adding that getting the vaccine is "by far the most important thing you can do" to help keep COVID-19 rates down in the city.