Several Lake County municipalities say they are no longer considering proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirements for businesses after the town of Highland Park places an ordinance in their town.
Highland Park City Council passed an ordinance last Wednesday that will require some businesses to verify proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all customers, including children 5 and older.
City council voted 6-1 to pass the motion to impose the requirement.
The emergency order is similar to those issued in Cook County and the city of Chicago, which went into effect Monday.
Unlike Cook County, Lake County is a non-self-governing county and does not have the authority to pass a county-wide ordinance that would cover all municipalities in Lake County.
Officials from Deerfield, Waukegan, Buffalo Grove and North Chicago have said they are considering or discussing implementing a similar mandate in their municipalities after Highland Park adopted theirs.
The mayors of North Chicago and Waukegan both told the Chicago Tribune that their city’s aldermen are showing no interest in the term.
Some businesses in Buffalo Grove and Deerfield fall under the Cook County mandate if they are located south of Lake Cook Road.
Buffalo Grove administrators said they did not want to issue a village-wide warrant because it would strain businesses and be a challenge to enforce.
At a board meeting on Monday in Deerfield, the village director said the topic of implementing a mandate would be discussed further on January 18.
The director of the village of Barrington told the Tribune that the village would “not ask for additional authority to interfere in the operation of local businesses”.
The Highland Park ordinance goes into effect Friday and will require all people aged 5 and over to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter on-site dining establishments.
The ordinance will apply to restaurants, cafes, cafes and bars, including fast food outlets and fast-casual establishments.
It will also apply to indoor entertainment venues where food and drink are served, such as cinemas, performance halls, sports arenas, arcades, bowling alleys and other establishments.
The mayor of Highland Park, Nancy Rotering, said the order was proposed in an attempt to tackle the increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.
Rotering said employees at companies in Highland Park can either provide proof of vaccination to their employer or get tested for COVID weekly.
“I think it will help restaurants,” said Kim Stone, a member of the Highland Park Council. She said people will be more likely to go out to eat knowing everyone is vaccinated.
Andres Tapia was the only board member to vote against the motion.
He said he didn’t think the mandate would do enough and claimed COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent the spread of the Omicron variant. (Tapia later said in a statement to Lake and McHenry County Scanner that he encourages residents to get vaccinated because he believes they prevent serious illness and death).
Tapia also said it would hurt businesses in Highland Park, as neighboring communities do not have a mandate to do so.
Several Highland Park business owners spoke out against the ordinance at Wednesday’s city council meeting.
Steve Geffen, owner of Once Upon a Bagel in Highland Park, said the order will put his business in a difficult position.
“It’s a really unfortunate position that you put us in. I think it will put restaurants in danger of going out of business,” Geffen told city council members.
“I am really worried about what will happen to my business. We are already understaffed as they are. Why can’t you let people make their own decisions? Geffen asked.
Rotering said she didn’t think checking vaccination cards was a tedious task, calling it a “non-event.”
City manager Ghida Neukirch said business education will be a priority to ensure compliance. She encouraged residents to contact the town hall if they see any violations.
Neukirch said city staff would follow up by phone with the company in question and a subsequent violation would result in an inspector being sent to the facility.
Other violations would result in a written notice and then possibly a citation, punishable by a fine of $ 25 to $ 750, to be issued. The citation would require an administrative hearing.