Illinois face mask mandate update: Face mask requirement ends across IL, Chicago; City lifts vaccine proof requirement

CHICAGO (WLS) — The state of Illinois along with Chicago officially lifted their indoor mask mandates, with the city also ending its proof of vaccination requirement.

Most indoor places are moving forward with lifting mask requirements beginning Monday.

The move affects restaurants, bars, gyms and stores. Still some businesses said they’ll let staff decide whether they want to go maskless or not.

“Right now, we are wearing masks but we already told our employees that it’s going to be optional for them,” Mariel Carlos, manager for Taqueria Los Camales.

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Customers said they appreciate now having a choice whether to mask-up.

“I think it gives me a sense of freedom,” said customer German Rodriguez. “My choice if I want to wear it or if I don’t want to wear it.”

Some venues said they will keep their requirements for now. Broadway in Chicago as well as Symphony Center and the Lyric Opera will continue to require masks, and proof of vaccination for audience members.

“We’re sitting next to strangers that we don’t know, so it is the safest thing,” said theatergoer Kevin Parliament.

Masks will also still be required in hospitals, public transit, prisons , jails and in Chicago Public Schools…

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But for those who will be ditching their masks, health officials offered this advice.

“I would still recommend that if you are in indoor spaces, especially those that are crowded, that you put on a mask,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, Cook County Department of Health.

A group called “The People’s Response Network to COVID-19” will have a rally outside of city hall- they are worried over a possible new subvariant of omicron- and say they believe the mask mandates are being lifted prematurely.

Navy Pier is offering free rides on the Centennial Wheel to celebrate the lifting of the mask mandate. But first, you have to flash that smile that’s been hidden under your mask for so long.

Everyone who takes part will get a free souvenir photo. The happy faces will also be displayed on the hub of the wheel this month.

The “Smile to Ride” event runs from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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