Chicago lifted its mask mandate, effective Feb 28th, 2022. Key metrics the City used to track COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity since early in the pandemic have all reached the pre-defined “lower” risk category, meaning they have been in an acceptable lower risk range for a long enough time period. This is encouraging news!
Food businesses like grocery stores are now mask optional, but congregate settings like homeless shelters are still mask mandated. Many Chicagoans will continue to wear masks in public spaces for a variety of reasons, even if they are vaccinated. The Friendship Center sits somewhere in the middle, since we rely on volunteers and serve a population that may be under-vaccinated.
Taking these components into consideration, we are adopting a split policy: if you are a client, a volunteer or staff engaging with one, or in the walled-in shopping area, we request you wear a mask. If you are a volunteer or staff and serving behind that front line, masks are optional.
To further mitigate risk and create a safer space, we are partnering with both Swedish Hospital and Heartland Heath Centers to provide vaccine availability information and updated COVID facts to our clients. While the weather is still cold, it will be via flyers in grocery boxes, but as it warms up, we’ll invite those partners onsite to answer questions. We have also located 300 at-home COVID-19 test kits, soon to be made available for distribution and onsite for anyone displaying symptoms.
If community transmission rates increase or other factors dictate, we will continue to stay flexible in these policies and revise as needed. We will keep this page current so continue to check back to see if any changes have been made to our Covid policies.
Thanks again for your partnership in supporting our neighbors facing hunger!
Justin Block, Executive Director