FOREST PARK, Ill. — The Cook County Department of Public Health issued Thursday a new mitigation order for suburban Cook County in response to the current COVID-19 surge of cases and hospitalizations.

The order calls for proof of vaccination for customers of indoor settings where food or drink are served, like restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, and in fitness facilities. The order will go into effect Jan. 3.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a similar mandate for Chicago on Tuesday, requiring that people age 5 and older must show proof of full vaccination.

Suburban Cook County is seeing over 500 new cases per 100,000 population daily and the test positivity rate is 7.8 percent as of last week. The ICU capacity is at 10.8 percent bed availability.

Under the order, businesses must display signage about the mitigations at every entrance and prominently within the facility.

“Earlier this year, we had hoped that we were on a path to finally put the pandemic behind us,” said Cook County Board President Preckwinkle. “But unfortunately, with the dual threat presented by the Delta and Omicron variants, and with cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising to new heights across Cook County, we must once again reassess and re-align our strategies with what the science is telling us. And the science is clear – it will take all of us to beat COVID; people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths getting vaccinated and taking common sense measures to stop the spread of the virus.”

Businesses violating these orders will be subject to inspection and possible fines for violations.

“Omicron is here in suburban Cook County, and it spreads incredibly quickly and easily, so CCDPH must take measures to contain the spread,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, CCDPH Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer. “We are concerned about how easily the Omicron variant can spread among people, especially in crowded indoor settings. It is very important that we implement these measures to help lower the risk of transmission.” 

Fitness centers include settings like health clubs, yoga studios, group fitness classes, recreation centers, and dance studios. Entertainment venues include movie theaters, concert venues, live theater and music spaces, sports arenas, bowling alleys and arcades. Patrons in these facilities must remain masked and physically distant when possible.