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Evanston companies will respond to vaccination regulations effective January 10th

by Olivia Abeyta

As of January 10, entertainment, fitness, and food businesses will be required to obtain their guests’ vaccination records upon entry. Companies supported the decision, but also anticipated challenges.

A new COVID-19 vaccination mandate for businesses in Evanston went into effect on Monday.

The ordinance issued by the city of December 30, 2021 requires gyms, restaurants and entertainment establishments to verify proof of a full vaccination upon entry for customers aged 5 and over. The prescription defines full vaccination as two weeks after two doses of either a Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, or an injection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The mandate follows a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Evanston and across the Chicago area. Many Evanston facilities have been moving in the past few weeks to require proof of vaccination or offer online listings as cases continue to increase.

After months of personal dancing, Chicago Ballet Arts returned to offering hybrid dance classes. Artistic and Executive Director Maliwan Dieme said that about 30% of students who signed up for their winter adult workshop on New Year’s weekend were unable to attend due to pandemic-related reasons.

The original wording of the mandate allowed exceptions to the mandate for K-12 post-school and recreational programs, but left ambiguity as to which companies and programs qualified. This created uncertainty for some companies and prompted the city to release a revision on January 6 – just four days before the order went into effect. The revision clarified some individuals who are exempt from the mandate, including K-12 students participating in extracurricular programs or participating in athletics or recreational programs.

Diemer said she was frustrated with the timing of the mandate and its impact on the studio’s youth programming when the contract was first released.

“The timing left us only a very short window of time to confirm our plans with our families and implement our plans before the order went into effect,” said Diemer.

Susan Trieschmann, executive director of Curt’s Cafe, said the order would protect her employees, who are mostly students. Trieschmann said she thinks the mandate is “the right thing” to keep everyone healthy.

Nevertheless, she feared losing customers in the short term due to the mandate.

“People don’t want to go out and be bothered with it, that will slow down our sales enormously,” said Trieschmann. “But I think we all have another three months to grapple with it and then hopefully it will be under control.”

Some companies were not affected by the mandate. Christopher Pazdernik, executive director and casting director of Theo Ubique Cabaret Theater, said theaters in the Chicago area would require proof of vaccination as early as the fall season.

Pazdernik said his biggest challenge so far has been reminding people to have their vaccination cards ready.

“Some people come and scroll through six months of photos on their cell phones,” said Pazdernik. “Of course you want to trust people, but I also have to protect the safety of everyone in the building. If you can’t offer it, we offer you to postpone it to another day, but we can’t let you stay. ”

Ultimately, several Evanston companies endorsed the mandate as they felt it was the right move to ensure the safety and health of the community.

“I was so happy to see it because, to be honest, it felt like it should have been introduced a long time ago,” said Pazdernik.

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Twitter: @GwenSetia

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