Masks are Back, Vaccinations are Required

Lightfoot and Pritzker Bring Back Mask Mandate


On Friday, August 20, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the return of the indoor mask mandate as a means to fight the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19. 

The City of Chicago mask mandate went into effect on August 23, by which time Cook County had also imposed an indoor mask mandate on all individuals over the age of 2.

Although Governor J.B. Pritzker previously stated that there would be no statewide indoor mask mandate, the rapid spread of the Delta variant and high infection rate of all Illinois counties required a change in plans. On August 26, Governor Pritzker announced a statewide indoor mask mandate that mirrored the requirements of the previously implemented Chicago and Cook County mandate. 

Under all three mandates, all individuals over the age of 2 are required to wear masks in all indoor settings, as well as in crowded outdoor gatherings. This includes inside restaurants and bars, except when actively eating or drinking, in health clubs, and in all common areas of residential buildings. The mask mandate applies regardless of vaccination status.

In addition to mask mandates, private and public employers are beginning to implement a vaccination requirement. As a means to combat the continuing rise of the coronavirus throughout the City, Mayor Lightfoot announced that Chicago Public School teachers and staff along with all other City of Chicago employees must be vaccinated by no later than October 15, 2021. City employees refusing vaccination may be subject to job termination. Governor Pritzker, who had remained silent, was forced again to step in and issue a vaccine mandate. 

Along with the August 26 mask mandate, Governor Pritzker announced that all preschool through 12th grade teachers and staff must have at least one coronavirus vaccine shot by September 5 or be subject to weekly coronavirus testing. Additionally, Governor Pritzker imposed a similar vaccine mandate on all higher education staff and students, health care employees, and residents of group homes. 

While the ultimate goal is to reduce coronavirus transmission and illness, much of the United States continues to battle high infection rates. Until the mask and vaccine mandates begin to flatten the infection curve, masks in school remain the reality. Health officials anticipate that these measures will help slow the spread of the coronavirus and allow for students, and society, to unmask again soon.