Chicago, IL

Jewel-Osco Chicago-area stores reinstate mask mandates for employees only

Jennifer Geer

Nineteen Illinois counties are at a "high community level" according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This grocery store chain has announced masks are required for employees.

(CHICAGO) Five counties out of nineteen Illinois counties at "high levels" are in the Chicago area. Will, Cook, Lake, DuPage, and McHenry counties remain under the high category, while Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, and DeKalb counties are at "medium risk," according to the CDC.

According to a news release on Friday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 32,605 new confirmed and probable cases in Illinois, including 47 deaths since May 27, 2022.

Though the CDC urges residents in high-level counties to wear masks indoors and avoid non-essential indoor activities, regardless of vaccination status, government mask mandates have not returned.

Jewel-Osco requires masks for employees

Jewel-Osco had previously lifted a mask requirement for its employees but has reinstated that mandate. According to an email statement sent to NBC5 Chicago,

"Jewel-Osco continues to follow the guidelines set by the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health," a spokesperson said. "Due to current high COVID transmission rates in the counties where we have stores, the Distribution Center, and the corporate office we are requiring associates and vendors to wear a mask."

Will mask mandates return for Chicago or the suburbs?

Although individual businesses might make mandates for their employees, as Jewel-Osco has, it seems unlikely at this time that a blanket mandate will happen for entire cities or counties.

Currently, officials are encouraging masks, but forced mandates have not been mentioned.

Chicago's Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, tweeted last week with a recommendation to the community to wear masks indoors,

"With the move to a High COVID Level, we strongly urge masking in all public indoor spaces in Chicago—including on public transit. Chicagoans should also ensure that they and everyone in their social networks are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters."

What does the CDC recommend for people living in counties at high levels?

  • Wear a mask during indoor activities in public
  • Get vaccinated for Covid-19 and get a booster shot if you are eligible.
  • Test if you develop symptoms
  • If you're at high risk, you may need to take additional safety measures

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

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