City to lift mask and vaccine mandate Monday in accordance with state timeline


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

With a dramatic decline in weekly Evanston COVID-19 positivity rates and case numbers, Mayor Daniel Biss announced the end of its mask and vaccine mandates, with some exceptions, to take into effect Monday.

Angeli Mittal, Photo Editor

Evanston announced it will lift its vaccination and indoor masking requirements on Monday, in accordance with the state.

Individuals will no longer be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces like grocery stores, libraries, restaurants, recreation centers and entertainment facilities, Mayor Daniel Biss relayed in a Wednesday message to the community. Masks will still be required in public and private schools, on public transportation services and in healthcare facilities, among other specified high-risk locations, to protect vulnerable populations. 

Several local school districts, including Evanston Township High School District 202 have made indoor mask wearing optional for students and staff once the mandate is lifted. ETHS will still require students to test every other week.

The city encouraged community members, especially those who are immunocompromised or unvaccinated, to continue wearing masks if they feel more comfortable doing so. Evanston held four KN95 distribution events Wednesday and will distribute more in the future. 

Businesses will no longer be mandated to require proof of vaccination upon entry starting Monday, though they may choose to continue to do so.

Biss said these changes are not a sign that the pandemic is over, but a step in alignment with declining positivity rates and COVID-19 cases.

“Following the surge in cases caused by the omicron variant, it’s become increasingly clear that COVID-19 won’t be going away entirely anytime soon, if ever,” Biss said. “We must continue to adapt and balance many public health, social and economic considerations as we determine our path forward.”

Biss attributed the revised guidance to a monitored decline in COVID-19 case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalizations. In the last 30 days, the city has seen an 85% decline in hospitalizations. 30 individuals are currently in Evanston area hospitals with COVID-19. This represents 11.7% of hospitalizations at the pandemic’s peak in January at 256.

The city’s positivity rate has also been declining in the last month, reaching less than one percent last week. This week, it’s at 0.93% — a 22.63 percentage point drop from 23.56% at the pandemic’s peak.

The number has seen an overall decline since the peak of the omicron wave in January. The city reported 17 cases Tuesday — three more than the average cases reported per day in the last seven days — 7.7% of the 221 cases reported at the peak of the pandemic on Jan. 13.

While the community vaccine mandate will be lifted, Biss said city staff are still subject to the vaccination policy. The 11% of staff members who aren’t fully vaccinated must continue weekly COVID-19 testing.

Guidelines are subject to change, including a potential reinstitution of the mask and vaccine mandates, as the public health metrics are monitored, Biss said.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @amittal27

Related Stories:

Pritzker announces end to indoor mask mandate, with some exceptions

City COVID-19 positivity rate reaches below 1%, free KN95 distribution to take place next week

ETHS to offer mask choice for students and staff starting Feb. 28