(The Center Square) – Republican state lawmakers are demanding an end to Cook County requiring businesses to deny indoor accommodations to anyone over 5 years old that don’t reveal their vaccine status.
Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Ken Meyer on Tuesday said they’ll enforce the mandate that went into effect this week.
“BACP will investigate complaints received through Chicago’s 3-1-1 system,” Meyer said at a news conference.
The mandate requires businesses with indoor dining, gym service or indoor entertainment to deny service to anyone 5 years or older that do not show they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The mandate is expected to mean large swaths of the population won’t be allowed to dine indoors, go to a gym or take in indoor entertainment.
Data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows 32% of Illinoisans 5 and older are not fully vaccinated. For Chicagoans, data at Chicago.gov shows more than 40% of Latinos are not fully vaccinated. More than 50% of Black Chicagoans are not fully vaccinated.
At a separate news conference Tuesday, state Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine, predicted convention planners will choose locations outside of Chicago, Cook County and Illinois with fewer COVID-19 mandates.
“And who gets hurt the most? It’s the bartenders, it’s the waitstaff, it’s the dishwasher, it’s anyone who relies on tips from travelers,” Morrison said.
State Rep. Chris Bos, R-Lake Zurich, said people are already choosing a Lake County restaurant over one in Cook County.
“We have to acknowledge that this mandate is a step too far and the dates we’ve seen out of New York City supports that too,” Bos said. “These mandates don’t work.”
Republicans demanded to see the science and data supporting the mandate. A spokesperson for Cook County didn’t immediately respond with such information.
State Rep. Marty McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills, has businesses in suburban Cook County that want to speak out, but fear retaliation.
“I find it reprehensible that you need less information to vote or enter the country, it seems, than to go to a local pancake restaurant in Cook County,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve had enough frankly of elected officials acting as part-time epidemiologist telling us ‘it’s either vaccine or ventilator.’”
McLaughlin said he’s not anti-vaccine, but wants there to be attention on therapeutics too. He also said the mandate makes no sense.
“We need to live with this virus and any future virus in a better way,” McLaughlin said. “A person can have vaccination status, be COVID positive, and go into any of those establishments. How does that make any sense at all?”
Health officials do urge residents who test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms to stay home.
Republicans urged for discussions at the statehouse about the ongoing management of the COVID-19 pandemic through executive action rather than legislative action.
“We’re entering soon our third year of a 15-day experiment to flatten the curve,” McLaughlin said. “We need to learn to live with this virus and any future virus in a better way.”