Soon You’ll Need Proof of Vaccination to Visit Chicago Restaurants, Gyms, and More

The double-dose mandate goes into effect on January 3.

According to the city of Chicago’s COVID Dashboard, just 63.8% of Chicagoans are fully vaccinated. That means, as of Monday, January 3, 2022, a whopping 36.2% Windy City residents will no longer be able to sweat it out at CrossFit, grab a beer at the corner dive, or cheer on the surprisingly good Chicago Bulls at the United Center. That’s right—a sweeping vaccine mandate is coming to Chicago in a few short weeks, and it’s coming in hot.

On December 21, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced via a press release the official introduction of Public Health Order 2021-2, an ordinance instructing certain types of businesses to require all patrons aged five and over to show proof of full vaccination—that’s two shots, minimum—in order to enter. Businesses who fail to verify vaccination cards or willingly let in unvaccinated or unverified guests will be subject to fines.

And this goes way beyond bars and restaurants. The full lineup of establishments falling under this legislature spans anywhere food and drinks are sold, including fast food joints, distilleries and breweries, ballrooms and banquet halls, and even the dining areas of grocery stores. Gym rats should also take notice, as all indoor fitness centers—including yoga, dance, and Pilates studios, recreation centers, and hotel work out areas—must also comply with the new rules. The last set of businesses required to check vax cards are indoor entertainment venues where food and drinks are served, from movie theaters, performing arts venues, and concert halls to bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, strip clubs, and sports arenas. Proof of vaccination is defined as a valid photo ID for those 16 and older, along with a vaccination card in its original, photocopied, re-printed, or digital form. Masking will still be strictly enforced in all indoor public areas and, interestingly enough, the new order does not alter capacity limits.

This latest effort to keep Chicagoans healthy comes in the wake of sharp rises in COVID transmission, thanks predominantly to a perfect storm of the Omicron variant’s arrival, cooling temperatures forcing folks indoors, and an increase in holiday gatherings. Chicago’s current daily positivity average is up 101% from last week, with more than 2,000 cases confirmed yesterday, alone. And while the mayor’s office did not specify an end-date for the new health order, expect it to last at least until Omicron’s warpath is safely in the city’s rearview mirror.

Happy New Year, Chicago, and please, for the love of Chance the Rapper partying at the club with the entire World Champion Chicago Sky team, get your shots. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Meredith Heil is a Senior Cities Editor at Thrillist. She’s very much fully vaccinated and boosted and would appreciate it if you were, too. Show her your sticker @mereditto.