Trustees of the village of Orland Park, a municipality in Chicago’s Cook County suburb, voted on Dec. 28 not to enforce the county’s COVID-19 vaccine passport requirement for some businesses.
The mandate, issued just before Christmas by the Cook County Department of Public Health, calls for proof of vaccination from customers of indoor settings like restaurants, fitness clubs, and entertainment venues.
The mitigation order, which threatens to impose fines on non-compliant businesses, goes into effect on Jan. 3—but not in Orland Park.
“We have allowed our businesses a choice in how they wish to handle COVID-19,” trustee Michael R. Milani told Chicago news outlet WGN9. “So thus I will not support this attempt at government overreach of basically forcing vaccination, without being legislated upon local businesses and their patrons.”
Cook County officials said on Dec. 23 that the measure is meant to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2.
“Unfortunately, with the dual threat presented by the Delta and Omicron variants, and with cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising to new heights across Cook County, we must once again reassess and re-align our strategies with what the science is telling us,” Cook County Board President Preckwinkle said in a statement. He added that “the science is clear—it will take all of us to beat COVID; people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and faiths getting vaccinated and taking common-sense measures to stop the spread of the virus.”
Preckwinkle cited data showing a test positivity rate of 7.8 percent the prior week in Cook County, with over 500 new cases per 100,000 population daily.
But the measure faced opposition. Following the health agency’s announcement, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau released a statement accusing Cook County officials of “playing politics” and taking “unlawful measures” by mandating the vaccine requirements.
“There is a process in place that lawmakers must legally follow to enforce mandates like this, but instead they prefer to overreach and play politics,” Pekau said. “And now they’re expecting us to expend resources to enforce their mandates instead of using those resources to fight the crime perpetrated by criminals that they keep releasing back onto our streets.”
Orland Park chief of police, Joe Mitchell, said during Tuesday’s meeting of trustees that he opposes deploying officers to enforce the mandate.
“I simply do not have, nor would I devote crucial resources to this ill-advised policy,” he said, according to WGN9. “An unfunded policy whereupon the Orland Park Police Department would have to assist with dealing with vaccine passport mandates.”
The mitigation order calls for non-compliant businesses to be subjected to inspections and possible fines for violation.