With the city’s COVID mandates gone, here’s what some businesses plan to do starting Monday

Craig Richardson, owner/manager of Lincoln Park’s Dough and berriesfollowed expert advice throughout the ever-changing dynamics of the coronavirus pandemic.

When the state first shut everything down, it listened. When social distancing guidelines were enacted, he listened. And when it was time to put on masks, and later get vaccinated, he listened.

“We just tried to follow the science and expert advice and stayed in our ways,” Richardson said Thursday. “If they tell us it’s necessary to save lives, then it’s necessary and we’ll follow any recommendations that may come.”

Now, he’s ready to eagerly follow the latest state and city steps to lift both mask mandates and vaccination proof checks.

“We’re going to follow the city’s guidelines because we trusted the experts and if they say it’s okay, we just have to trust that,” Richardson said. “So we won’t be requiring masks or verification of vaccine cards or anything like that. Whatever the city says, we’ll follow.

On Monday, Chicago will lift the last remaining COVID mitigations that have dictated to business owners how — or even if — they can serve customers for the better part of two years. As the state sheds its latest indoor mask mandate — which has been in place since August — the city is also removing a requirement for proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, gyms and certain other businesses after less than two months in force.

Since the city will still allow individual businesses to enforce their own rules, it’s probably best to keep a mask and a vax card in your pocket.

“It’s hard to say what’s normal these days, but hopefully it’s a step in that direction,” Richardson said. “You really don’t know because last summer those restrictions eased and then we had the Delta variant which was then followed by Omicron so we plan to take it day by day and be ready to change quickly if we have to.”

Gianluca Pesce, spokesperson for the breakfast restaurant Egg yolksaid it had been operating as a “mask-optional” facility for some time at its Florida and Texas locations and was looking forward to transitioning its Chicago locations to do the same.

“We have anticipated the change in city requirements and are in agreement with the timing,” Pesce said. “We will be transitioning all locations to ‘mask optional’. All other new sanitization procedures and safety protocols we have put in place during Covid will remain in place for the time being.

A Planet Fitness The spokesperson said they are following all local and state mandates at each of their gyms across the country, so they will be dropping previous restrictions here as well.

“We invite our members, guests and staff to wear a mask if they wish,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

But to Pilates clubfitness centers, they will continue to recommend that customers wear masks – and will require proof of vaccination for people who wish to train without a mask.

the Adler Planetarium was largely closed for the duration of the pandemic except for a few weeks, but a spokeswoman said it would follow the schedule set by the state and city.

“As of today, we plan to open March 4 without the COVID mask and vaccine mandates,” Planetarium spokeswoman Jennifer Howell said in a statement.

the Shed Aquarium will also follow up and “lift mask and vaccination requirements for guests” on Monday, spokeswoman Kayley Ciocci said. “Guests and staff may continue to wear masks in the aquarium for a variety of reasons, so please continue to be kind and considerate of others.”

Meanwhile, many theaters in the region have said they intend to keep vaccine and mask requirements in place for the foreseeable future.

Some businesses, however, are still trying to figure out what to do under the city’s new guidelines.

Chicago Walgreens stores, for example, are still reviewing the company’s masking policy, a spokesperson said Thursday.

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