CHICAGO, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference on Tuesday that the U.S. third largest city will require all restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues to check the vaccination status of patrons aged five and older.
The new rules will go into effect on Jan. 3 and will affect restaurants, bars, fast food establishments, coffee shops, tasting rooms, cafeterias, food courts, dining areas of grocery stores, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls, hotel ballrooms, and other facilities for physical exercise and recreation.
Nevertheless, the new rules do not affect schools, day-care facilities, churches, airports and office buildings.
Businesses do not have to check individuals for proof of vaccination if they're entering to order and carry out food, deliver goods, or use the bathroom; the new rules also exempt some performing artists and professional athletes from the vaccine requirement. Individuals with religious exemptions are also exempt, but they will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test, the Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday.
Chicago is recording an average of 1,776 new COVID-19 cases a day, the highest in about a year, and a 7.3 percent positivity rate, both up from last week. Hospitalizations are averaging 62 a day, up 12 percent from the prior week, while deaths are at 10 a day.
Across the state of Illinois, health officials on Tuesday reported 10,264 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, raising the average number of new daily cases to 10,590 over the past week, up from 7,199 per day a week earlier and 4,057 a month ago.
As of Monday night, 4,008 coronavirus patients were in hospitals across Illinois, the most in a single day since Dec. 30, 2020. Over the past week, the state has averaged 3,829 COVID-19 patients per day, the highest level since early January.
Deaths from COVID-19 also are on the rise, with 63 reported Tuesday, bringing the average number of daily deaths to 51 over the past week. That's the highest level since early February. In all, Illinois recorded 27,291 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.
As of Tuesday, nearly 68 percent of the state's eligible population, those aged five and older, have been fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Nationwide, the extremely contagious Omicron variant makes up more than 73 percent of new COVID-19 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.