On Tuesday, December 21, 2021, the city of Chicago ordered that many public accommodations, including restaurants, bars, cafes, gyms, and entertainment venues, must require guests to provide proof of full vaccination status prior to entry. The order will come into effect on January 3, 2022, so companies are running out of time to establish processes and procedures for complying with the new rules.
Noticeably, cannabis retailers are missing from the non-exhaustive list of specific venues covered by the regulation. This is likely to be by design. The thrust of the arrangement is focused on businesses that serve food and drink where customers would otherwise be permitted under the rules of the Mask Mandate of Illinois to temporarily remove a face mask for eating or drinking. In other words, establishments where patrons would otherwise not remove their masks because they do not consume anything on site would not be expressly covered by the order. Logically, cannabis retailers are then not covered (unless they also serve food and / or drinks on site).
While it’s debatable whether on-site consumption of edibles and / or smoking or vaping, which would require someone to remove their mask, could turn a store into a covered venue, Chicago cannabis regulations currently allow products to be consumed on-site and so ordering vaccines for Chicago-based cannabis retailers shouldn’t, in theory, be a problem right now. However, while proposals to approve locations for on-site consumption within Chicago remain stalled in the city council, they are likely to be reconsidered in the future. At this point, the city’s vaccine mandate for cannabis traffickers could come back into play.
Still, at this point, Chicago cannabis retailers should continue to mandate masking in their facilities and prohibit on-site consumption of products (both to comply with Chicago’s current on-site ban and to avoid accidentally falling within the scope of vaccination mandates in public places ). Of course, cannabis dealers can voluntarily request proof of vaccination from customers and employees, but currently there does not seem to be an explicit obligation to do so.