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CHICAGO (WLS) — Chicago’s indoor mask mandate officially came back into effect Friday morning.

All residents age two or older must wear masks inside bars and restaurants, stores, theaters, health clubs and other indoor spaces, vaccinated or not.

“Our goal is to stay open,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said earlier this week. “I don’t expect that this will be an indefinite, forever mask requirement.”

There are some exceptions. Masks may be removed while eating or drinking in bars, restaurants or other establishments. They can also be taken off during specific activities that require their removal, like getting a facial at a salon.

WATCH: Dr. Arwady discusses Chicago mask mandate

The same day the city’s mandate took effect, the Cook County Department of Public Health announced they will be following suit starting Monday, August 23.

“We are in a dangerous period, with the Delta variant surging, during which we must return to previous remediation measures,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer of Cook County Department of Public Health said in a statement Friday. “We have no choice but to mandate that people wear masks indoors to help contain this spread of the virus.”

According to the CCDPH order, businesses will be required to post signage that states that masks are required. CCDPH has created a sign that can be posted by employers and it can be found on the CCDPH website.

“As the virus changes, we need to adapt our guidance and recommendations to keep residents safe,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer of Cook County Department of Public Health. “This variant is highly contagious and represents over 90 percent of our recent cases. We must act now.”

At the Golden Apple restaurant, customers were ready.

“I didn’t think it would happen,” said customer Tom Gibbons. “I thought once I got the COVID shot that I’d never have to wear the mask again.”

“I think it’s a good idea until they bring down the amount of hospitalizations for COVID,” said customer Jack Needhal. “It would be a lot better if everyone got the COVID shot.”
The move comes with Chicago now averaging more than 400 new cases of COVID per day.

“A strategy that would be much more effective than a mask mandate would be a vaccine mandate in public places like they are doing in other cities like New York. That would be much more likely to be effective than a mask mandate but masks definitely help reduce transmission,” said Dr. Robert Citronberg with Advocate Aurora Health.

For now, hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low, but if they rise, the city could consider capacity limits, something many business owners say would be disastrous.

“There’s a lot of restaurants, even myself, will close temporarily if there’s a restriction on occupancy,” said Sam Sanchez of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

City officials said if they find people not obeying the masking mandate inside of businesses, they may give the owner a warning or in some cases- a citation.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Source: ABC7

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