Chicago to Drop Vaccine, Indoor Mask Mandates for Certain Locations: Mayor

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
February 23, 2022Updated: February 23, 2022

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday that the city’s indoor mask mandate and COVID-19 vaccination requirement for certain businesses will be scrapped effective Feb. 28.

Lightfoot told reporters at a news conference that mask-wearing will still be enforced in the city’s public transit system, health care settings such as hospitals and nursing homes, and congregate settings, such as prisons and jails.

Illinois’s statewide mask mandate is also set to be lifted on Monday.

“In order to continue maintaining our progress with this pandemic, it’s vital that we must continue to work together to increase vaccination rates in every age category across every demographic,” Lightfoot said.

“But in the meantime, it’s important for us to recognize this moment for what it is: a huge step forward in our effort to overcome COVID-19. We would not have been in a position, even a few weeks ago, to this kind of announcement today.”

Lightfoot said individual businesses may still opt to ask customers to wear masks or show proof of vaccination to enter.

“That is their right, and we must respect it, Lightfoot said.

The mayor thanked Chicago business owners for complying with the restrictions that were rolled out in the city as part of measures aimed at curbing the transmission of COVID-19.

“Thanks to your compliance, we were able to keep people safe, bump up our vaccination rates, and keep our economy open,” she said.

The mayor cited a decline in COVID-19 cases in the city as reason to lift the restrictions.

“Many residents may continue to wear masks in public spaces for a variety of reasons, even if they are vaccinated or as more mandates and advisories fade,” the mayor added.

Chicago Public Schools issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it will continue to enforce its mask mandate.

“Chicago Public Schools will keep in place all proven COVID-19 safety mitigation measures, including requiring universal masking by all staff and students,” the district said. “Thanks to these key safety measures, CPS has been able to preserve in-person teaching and learning and provide a safe environment for students and staff.”

“We have made great progress in recent weeks against this virus, and we do not want to jeopardize that progress by moving too quickly. We look forward to the day when we can be mask-optional at CPS, but we still need to get more students vaccinated across our District, and we still need to work with our public health and labor partners on the best way to preserve a safe in-person learning environment for all.”

Lightfood told reporters on Tuesday that she hopes to never “shut down our economy again,” but didn’t rule out imposing further restrictions in the future.