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Mask mandates ending Monday across Illinois

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Indoor mask mandates are mostly going away in Illinois on Monday as COVID-19 numbers continue to improve.

Mandates imposed by the state of Illinois, city of Chicago and Cook County all will be removed.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced earlier this month the state's indoor mask mandate would be lifted on Monday, while keeping the mandate in place for schools.

But the Illinois Supreme Court has since upheld a Sangamon County judge's ruling striking down the school mask mandate.

Then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance to recommend indoor masking only in high-risk areas. That prompted Pritzker to end the school mask mandate.

The Cook County Department of Public Health, citing plunging COVID positivity rates and case counts, announced last Tuesday that the indoor mask mandate would expire on Monday. There are some exceptions: healthcare settings, transportation and transportation hubs, and congregate care settings.

In addition, the county is lifting requirements for proof of vaccinations to enter restaurants, bars and fitness centers and will no longer require employees of those businesses to have proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing.

"We are glad to be able to move with the rest of the state to lift these measures," Cook County Department of Health Senior Medical Officer Rachel Rubin said in a statement. "We thank the residents for their cooperation, and the suburban Cook County business community for their support and compliance with the mask mandate and vaccination requirements. We urge those who have not been vaccinated to do so."

Also last Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city's indoor mask and proof of vaccination requirements would end in most settings.

"Based on key date, it looks as if the worst of the omicron surge is behind us and we will be able to safely remove these emergency measures instituted to protect the health and safety of our residents," Lightfoot said in a statement. "I want to thank Chicagoans and in particular our business community for adhering to these measures and helping to pass through this difficult time while keeping restaurants and other businesses open."

Like Cook County, Chicago will continue to require masking in healthcare settings, on public transit and in other congregate settings.

And while Pritzker has lifted the statewide school mask mandate, that rule remains in place for Chicago Public Schools.

In a letter sent to CPS parents on Sunday, schools CEO Pedro Martinez said the mask mandate would remain in effect "to ensure the continued safety of our students and staff. ... We are in the process of reviewing the latest masking guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are working with our labor and public health partners on how to preserve a safe, healthy learning environment for all as we transition into this new phase of the pandemic."

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