Skip to content

Who has to wear masks where?

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


Illinois’ indoor mask mandate will be phased out in grocery stores, bars, restaurants, theaters, and other gathering places by Feb. 28 if COVID-19 metrics continue to fall, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday. 

But the face coverings should still be worn on public transit and in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and schools, he said. 

City officials said they’re also prepared to lift restrictions by the end of the month if cases and hospitalizations continue to drop locally. (Chicago has its own indoor mask mandate and vaccine requirement separate from the governor’s executive order.)

In early January, Illinois reported close to 45,000 cases in a day. That number was closer to 6,000 Tuesday. Hospitalizations are down, too, from about 7,300 to 2,500. 

Lifting the mandate, which has been in place since August, comes days after a downstate judge overturned the governor’s mask mandate in schools, sending districts across the state into a frenzy. 

Some parents in the northern suburbs of Niles barged into a school board meeting Monday chanting “unmask our children,” according to CBS Chicago. Nearby, students at Maine South in Park Ridge yelled obscenities about the ongoing mask requirement during passing periods, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Archdiocese of Chicago said it was letting up on masks in suburban Cook and Lake County schools today after a lot of public pressure — including outrage over one Evergreen Park principal who said he was put on administrative leave after he end the mandate prematurely, Block Club Chicago reported.

Illinois joins New York, New Jersey, and Delaware in changing its indoor masking rules this week as the CDC considers reevaluating its metrics to guide states on public health policy — something the public is really confused by, according to a new Pew survey

And, really, who was ENFORCING the mask mandate anyway?

Wednesday’s Trivia Answer

Siskel and Ebert agreed on the best film of the year nine times: “Z,” “The Godfather,” “Nashville,” “The Right Stuff,” “Do the Right Thing,” “Goodfellas,” “Schindler’s List,” “Hoop Dreams,” and “Fargo.”

Congrats to readers Brandon Polcik, Jaclyn Murphy, Shondra T. McCalebb, and Stephanie Pyrzynski 🥳 Expect swag soon!


Live theater is a huge cultural and economic pillar in Chicago. But it’s no surprise that theaters have struggled since the start of the pandemic. 

With Chicago Theatre Week starting Feb. 17, Chicago Reader’s Kerry Reid tells us how theaters are returning to live performances and shares show recommendations.

👉 Check out Chicago Theatre Week. Donate to the PlayMakers Lab’s GoFundMe so they can continue to bring arts education to CPS students.

Want our newsletter fresh in your inbox every weekday at 6 a.m.? Sign up here 👇

Group 12 Copy 2


▪️ After Cook County Jail saw a record number of COVID-19 cases in January, detainees say the jail has failed to conduct adequate testing, quarantines, and proper social distancing. [Injustice Watch]

▪️ Move those dibs ASAP or the city will starting Friday. [Axios Chicago]

▪️ Older adults in Bronzeville were transported around in electric cars at a low cost for a pilot study. Now, the program is expanding to the Illinois Institute of Technology campus. [Streetsblog Chicago]

▪️ A lot of Illinoisans apparently want to be notaries based on their Google searches. [Google]

▪️ What’s the future of Jackowo, the city’s last Polish neighborhood in Avondale? [Chicago Magazine]


We’re not even a full year into City Cast, but so many of you are spreading the word about our newsletter and podcast — including reader Caroline Chambers. BIG thanks!Tell friends to sign-up for our newsletter, and get rewards!


Reader Amelia tells us how after a lifetime of pining for Chicago, she finally made the move. 

“I grew up west of the city and it was always on my mind. The city was always on the horizon when the sun rose. We could even see the skyline from the end of the street. 

Whenever we went anywhere, we always told them we were from Chicago (even though we weren’t). 

After years of driving on 94 and having city-living lust, I recently bought a home in Chicago and can stop lying when I tell people where I live.”

We want to hear YOUR Chicago love story! Email or text/call (773) 780-0246.

Psst, City Cast is growing!

We’re hiring in Atlanta, Austin, Boise, Boston, Columbus, Philly, Portland (OR), Research Triangle (NC), Washington DC, and Vegas!

Learn more about our open positions here.