- Dec 27, 2021
In response to rising rates of COVID infections and hospitalizations, the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) has announced expanded mitigation measures going into effect January 3, 2022. The new rules, which cover Northbrook and most other suburban communities in the county, require proof of full vaccination from individuals patronizing indoor spaces where food or drink are served, including restaurants, bars, event spaces, entertainment venues, as well as health and fitness facilities. Pre-existing mask mandates will also continue. Read the full order here.
Under the CCDPH order released on December 23, covered businesses must require all patrons age five and older to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (The county aligns its definition of full vaccination with CDC standards; currently, the CDC does not require booster shots.) Patrons age 16 and older must also show proof of identification that matches the vaccine record. In addition, employees of covered businesses must either be vaccinated or show weekly proof of a negative COVID test.
The requirement does not apply to customers who enter the business for less than ten minutes to carry out food, make a delivery, or use a restroom. Customers who have received a medical exemption due to a vaccine allergy or other condition can be admitted by showing a letter from their doctor and a negative COVID test result from within 24 hours. Other exemptions apply to non-resident athletes during sporting events, non-resident performing artists, schools and childcare centers, and religious institutions.
The order also requires business to develop a written protocol describing how they will comply with the requirements, and to post signs informing patrons of the requirements. The County has released sample signage and a template for tracking employees’ vaccine status or test results. The Chamber will share links to additional resources as they become available via social media and member emails.
In a webinar presented by CCDPH, Drs. Rachel Rubin and Kiran Joshi shared the overall goal of the order along with some practical applications. According to Dr. Rubin, the vaccine requirements focus specifically on indoor places where people are likely to remove their masks either to eat and drink or to exercise. As Dr. Joshi phrased it, “Being unmasked in an indoor public setting is a high-risk activity.” The availability of seating to allow on-premises consumption is a key distinction for whether a food service space is subject to the rule: for example, a breakfast café in a hotel with seating would require patrons to show vaccination cards, while a strictly carryout breakfast would not.
Enforcement of the requirement will be focused on education led by CCDPH staff. Dr. Rubin stated that the first response to a business’s non-compliance would be to provide guidance and assistance, but that repeated violations of the requirements could lead to enforcement actions, including citations.
In a public statement, the Village of Northbrook asked residents to be cooperative as businesses implemented the new rules. “Business patrons are reminded of how much Northbrook’s businesses have done, and continue to do, to protect the health of customers and workers. Please be respectful of business employees as they work to comply with Cook County’s Vaccine Requirement.”
The Village also reminds residents and those who work in Northbrook of the extremely high COVID-19 transmission rate that exists currently in Cook County. Public health officials recommend residents test for COVID-19 before gathering with friends and family for New Year’s events, or if they think they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Click here for CCDPH testing information, including links to testing sites. Health officials also recommend layering proven COVID-19 mitigation measures, which include limiting high-risk exposures, wearing masks indoors and in crowded outdoor settings and maintaining social distance from people who don’t live in your household.
To make an appointment for a vaccine, visit www.vaccine.gov.