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To mask or not to mask? Here’s what we’re going to do

There are no hard and fast rules anymore, not in most cases. That puts us on the honor system.

People walk near the Chicago Theatre, Tuesday, May 18, 2021 in Chicago’s famed Loop.
Pedestrians — some masked, some not — walk near the Chicago Theatre in the Loop on Tuesday.
Shafkat Anowar/AP Photos

To wear a mask — or not?

That’s the decision Chicagoans face now that the city and state have fallen in line behind the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, unveiled recently to much confusion and head-scratching.

According to the guidelines, those of us who are fully vaccinated now have the green light to ditch masks in almost all settings, indoors and out.

Very cool.

But that leaves it to us to figure out how we handle, say, that big and crowded get-together coming up that may or may not be outdoors, depending on the weather. And that may or may not include stubborn, refuse-to-be-vaccinated friends and relatives.

So we’ve done the math, as it were, and we’ve decided. Though we’re all fully vaccinated — we of the Sun-Times editorial board — we’re all still inclined to carry a mask and err on the side of wearing it.

Just out of an abundance of caution.

Chicago is on the honor system now, following a Tuesday announcement to that effect by Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. Masks no longer will be required in most places, the exceptions being city-owned buildings, health care settings, schools, public transit and other “congregate settings.” In those places, masks remain mandatory.

That means all businesses are free to drop mask mandates, though the city is encouraging them to keep mask policies in place and to verify customers’ vaccination status until the city lifts all pandemic restrictions.

“At some level here,” Arwady said, “we are really needing folks to be doing the right thing.”

What it comes down to is what it’s always come down to, ever since the pandemic hit: Balancing personal freedom with being a good neighbor and responsible citizen. Not to mention this: The pandemic is still with us and just 38% of Chicagoans are fully vaccinated.

So we’re taking incremental steps and urging others to do the same. We’re ditching masks outdoors, which we would not do if we were not fully vaccinated, but we’ll still be wearing masks indoors a lot even when no mask is required.

We’ll wear one in a grocery store. Maybe at a wake. Maybe in a crowded music club.

That kind of thing.

Not as a matter of virtue signaling but out of an instinct to proceed with caution.

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