'We must act now': New, indoor mask mandate begins Monday in Cook County

Face masks are required to enter sign

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Delta variant of COVID-19 is surging in Cook County. Now, the county has issued a new, indoor mask mandate that goes into effect Monday.

The Cook County Department of Public Health announced Friday that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask indoors, beginning Monday, Aug. 23.

The order requires that all people over 2-years old, who can medically tolerate a mask, to wear one in multi-unit residential buildings and public places, such as restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, other retail establishments, fitness centers, and on public transportation.

Masks may be removed at restaurants, bars, and other eating/drinking establishments by patrons when they are actively eating/drinking while stationary. Masks can also be removed for certain activities that require their removal, such as beard shaves or facials.

“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. “We have no choice, but to mandate that people wear masks indoors to help contain this spread of the virus.”

According to the 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.”

The mask mandate covers every suburb in Cook County, except Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park, and Stickney Township, which have their own public health departments.