Chicago Department of Public Health announces new indoor mask mandate with continued increase in new COVID-19 cases in Chicago

August 17, 2021

COVID-19 Joint Information Center    media.coronavirus@cityofchicago.org

CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today that it will re-institute a face mask mandate for all indoor public settings as the average number of new daily cases of COVID-19 in Chicago surpasses 400. All individuals aged 2 and over, regardless of their vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask as of Friday, August 20, while indoors in public settings.

“With the highly transmissible Delta variant causing case rates to increase, now is the time to re-institute this measure to prevent further spread and save lives,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “We continue to track the data closely and are hopeful this will only be temporary and we can bend the COVID curve, as we’ve done in the past.”

Masks are required in all indoor public settings, including bars and restaurants, gyms, common areas of condos and multi-residential buildings, and private clubs. Similar to previous mask mandates, masks can be removed at restaurants, bars and other eating/drinking establishments by patrons when they are actively eating and drinking. Masks can also be removed for certain activities that require their removal, such as beard shaves or facials. Additionally, masks can be removed by employees in settings that are not open to the public, if employees are static and maintaining at least six feet from all other individuals (office cubicles, for example).

Masks also remain mandatory on public transportation, in healthcare settings, schools, and correctional and congregate settings. The new public health order does not include capacity limits at public places, and masking remains optional in outdoor settings, where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower. Masks are recommended for unvaccinated individuals in crowded outdoor settings.

Because more than 70% of Chicago adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Chicago’s rates of COVID hospitalization and death are much lower than they were in 2020 at the same case rate.

“But with case counts now rising back to this level, the risk has increased for everyone, even those who are vaccinated,” said Dr. Arwady. “The time to act is now to prevent further spread. Chicago residents who have not yet been vaccinated should get a vaccine as soon as possible—it will protect you and your loved ones from the risk of serious illness or even death.”

On July 27, the CDC issued updated guidance that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) in areas with “substantial and high transmission,” wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. The CDC defined four levels of community transmission: low, moderate, substantial, and high. Based on Chicago’s population, the city is in the CDC’s “high” category of local transmission when there are more than 400 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed per day. The daily average case rate rose to 419 on Monday.

Businesses seeking more information and guidance should visit Chicago.gov/reopening. The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) will be holding webinars on Thursday, August 19th at 10:00 a.m. and Friday, August 20th at 1:00 p.m. to provide an overview of the mask mandate. To register for a webinar, please visit chicago.gov/businesseducation.

“Chicago’s businesses have stepped up repeatedly to keep their customers and employees safe,” said BACP Acting Commissioner Kenneth Meyer. “We must once more do what is necessary to save lives. Chicagoans need to continue to follow the public health guidance-getting vaccinated, staying home when sick, and wearing masks.”

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