Ike Ogbo.

Evanston city officials say if the current COVID-19 surge eases up, the proof-of-vaccination-for-indoor-dining regulation could be modified or even dropped.

Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo and two other city leaders held a Q&A webinar for business owners Tuesday afternoon, about Evanston’s upcoming vaccination rule.

That policy, which takes effect Jan. 10, requires customers of indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, and also entertainment venues where food or drink are served, to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to be allowed to dine inside, or to exercise in the case of gyms. (There is a 10 minute exemption for customers picking up food to go).

Proof is required for all customers age five and older.  Children younger than five are not eligible for COVID shots.

Thirty percent of Evanston’s current coronavirus cases, Ogbo noted, are in day care and school age children.

Ogbo said the proof-to-dine regulation is science-based, to help prevent the spread of COVID, particularly the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Even in highly vaccinated Evanston, Ogbo said the COVID positivity rate is a “very unprecedented” 10%.

“Evanston is not a bubble,”  he added.

Ogbo noted that the city’s goal is “not to present a hardship to business,” and said he hoped the vax-to-dine mandate would not become permanent.

“Once the COVID surge has been controlled,” he said, “we can look at the order and make changes.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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