Statement from CDPH on Updated Mask Guidance

May 18, 2021

COVID-19 Joint Information Center

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State of Illinois, and recognizing how safe and effective the COVID-19 vaccines are, the City of Chicago will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings. As a reminder, fully vaccinated means two weeks after your second vaccine dose if you got Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after your single dose if you got Johnson and Johnson. 

If you are not fully vaccinated, you need to continue to wear your mask in all indoor settings.

At this point, 48 percent of all Chicagoans (and 60 percent of Chicago adults) have gotten a first dose of vaccine, but only 38 percent of all Chicagoans (and 47 percent of Chicago adults) are fully vaccinated. Many of our communities that have been the hardest-hit by COVID-19 have even lower vaccination rates. Children age 12-15 just became eligible for vaccination last week and none of them are fully vaccinated.

In addition, Chicago will align with federal and state guidance and will require everyone to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, in health care settings, schools, correctional/congregate settings, and on public transportation.

We strongly advise businesses to verify that individuals are fully vaccinated in order to follow the new mask guidance. However, we know that many businesses and other settings may not have the capacity to check people’s vaccination status. Therefore, we continue to strongly advise—though not require—masking policies for all indoor settings in Chicago until COVID-19 capacity restrictions are lifted and we enter phase five. This advisory applies to any setting that does not have the capacity to check vaccination status and/or where employees, clients, or attendees are not all known to be vaccinated. We ask businesses and other settings to post a sign on the door letting the public know their current masking policy so the public can choose whether or not to enter.

City of Chicago buildings will continue to require masks for all who are entering, at least until COVID-19 capacity restrictions are lifted.

In addition, current distancing and capacity requirements as laid out in the Chicago Bridge Phase remain in place, except for businesses that check vaccination status in order to take advantage of the Vaccine Exemption. For example, businesses can operate without capacity or distance restrictions if they verify that all customers and employees are fully vaccinated. . The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will be providing guidance directly to businesses and holding webinars to help our business community navigate the new regulations in the coming days.

Masks, social distancing, and handwashing have been our best tools, and we continue to encourage these safety measures to protect all Chicagoans.

And now we have an even more effective tool—safe and effective vaccines--and we urge many more Chicagoans to complete their vaccination. Getting vaccinated is by far the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19. It’s safe, it’s effective, it’s completely free, and it’s widely available. So please, get vaccinated.

Finally, please be kind and conscientious of your fellow Chicagoans. Regardless of mandates, we expect many Chicagoans to continue to wear masks in public spaces for a variety of reasons, even if they are vaccinated or as mandates and advisories fade. Someone may be immunocompromised, or have a family member who is immunocompromised or too young to be vaccinated.  A mask, remember, is mostly about protecting others—I wear my mask to protect you, to keep my germs to myself, a tangible sign that I am thinking about the greater good.