On Dec. 23, 2021, the Cook County Department of Public Health issued Mitigation Order 2021-11. This order becomes effective on January 3, 2022, and applies to all communities in suburban Cook County (with the exceptions of Chicago, Evanston, Oak Park, Skokie, and Stickney Township who each have their own certified public health department).

Order 2021-11 requires businesses to check the vaccination status of patrons where the business 1) includes food or drink served for consumption on premises in an indoor setting or 2) includes a health/fitness center. Per the Order, businesses are to only allow entry for fully-vaccinated individuals age 5 and older. Businesses are to require patrons age 16 or older to show identification that corresponds to the vaccination proof (e.g. school ID, driver’s license, etc.). Patrons entering an establishment for less than 10 minutes for the purpose of ordering and carrying out food, making a delivery, or using a restroom are exempt from the requirement. Signage regarding the vaccine requirements is to be posted at all entrances to the premises; the County has provided a printable sign on their website.

Additionally, Order 2021-11 requires that employees of businesses serving food or drink for consumption on premises and health/fitness centers must be vaccinated or show weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test. And all businesses are required to comply with OSHA standards 1910.501(e) and (g). Businesses are to develop a written protocol for how they will enforce Order 2021-11; the Cook County Department of Public Health has provided a template for the required plan on their website.

Order 2021-11 maintains the indoor mask requirement for all people in indoor settings that was issued in previous orders.  No provisions of the masking order have been altered.

Given that the Cook County Department of Public Health issued the order, enforcement of penalties for violations are as provided in the Cook County Code of Ordinances. In a webinar on December 27, 2021 County officials stated that if a complaint is received, their first step will be a call to the business, followed by an in-person inspection if necessary, to provide guidance to businesses regarding the requirements prior to any further enforcement actions, such as citations.

More information regarding the mitigation order is available on the Cook County Department of Public Health website. A Frequently Asked Questions section is included on the page; County officials confirmed that additional answers to will be added to the FAQs soon to clarify details of the new order. A recording of the December 27th webinar will also be made available on that web page or on the Public Health Department’s You Tube channel. Additionally, questions may be directed to the County at healthcook@cookcountyhhs.org. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions as well and I will be happy to facilitate communications with the County.