Chicago restaurants struggle to stay afloat despite COVID-19 vaccination requirements

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Chicago restaurants are struggling with staff, high fuel and supply costs, and now they’re committing resources to implement the city’s vaccination mandate.

Too many people are on the verge of bankruptcy, according to Chicago Restaurants Association coordinator Roger Romanelli.

“Whenever a mayor of an American city says, ‘hey, we have to check vax papers and IDs at a restaurant,’ unfortunately some customers get discouraged, so sales go down even more,” said said Romanelli. “Restaurants are ready to help the government, the government must disburse these federal funds by January 31.”

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Chicago’s vaccination mandate went into effect Jan. 3, requiring customers to show proof of vaccination when entering restaurants, bars and other businesses like gyms. It concerns all people over 5 years old. Guests over the age of 16 must show ID in addition to their COVID-19 vaccination card or fax.

January is a slow time for the restaurant industry and outdoor dining is not always an option during the winter months. Last year, the federal government gave grants to restaurants to help them stay afloat.

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In Chicago, 1,500 restaurants received grants, 2,500 applied and got nothing. Romanelli sent a letter to President Biden, asking for federal assistance for restaurants. He says each will need about $200,000 to survive and make up for the losses of the past two years.

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