Afternoon Edition: Dec. 21, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot today announcing that Chicago will require proof of vaccination at restaurants, bars and gyms starting Jan. 3.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 40 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low around 18 degrees. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 32 degrees.

Top story

Chicago to require proof of vaccination at restaurants, bars, gyms

Chicago restaurant, bar and gym patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination and a driver’s license before dining, drinking and exercising indoors, but weekly testing will be enough for employees, under mayoral mitigations unveiled today to curb a winter surge tied to the Omicron variant.

“We will leave no options off the table when it comes to protecting the safety of our residents,” Lightfoot told a City Hall news conference.

“We didn’t want to get to this point, but we simply have no choice....This is what we have to do to keep our health system from being overwhelmed by this new wave.”

To avoid burdening restaurants and bars during the holiday party season, the changes will be effective Jan. 3. The order will remain in effect until the city is “through this Omicron-driven surge and the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity has passed,” the mayor said.

Houses of worship, grocery stores without indoor dining sections and restaurants and bars at O’Hare and Midway airports will be exempt.

So will soup kitchens and other charitable food services, schools and day care centers.

Fran Spielman has more on the new COVID-19 mitigations here.

More news you need

  1. An Aurora man accused of using a flagpole to assault a federal officer during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach has been charged with five felonies in an indictment unsealed this week in Washington, D.C. James Robert “Jim Bob” Elliott, 24, is now at least the 20th Illinois resident charged in the Capitol breach.
  2. The Goodman Theatre announced today that it is suspending performances of “A Christmas Carol” through Dec. 24, citing a reported COVID-19 exposure within the production company. The Goodman joins a growing list of Chicago theaters that have either suspended or canceled productions due to COVID cases among casts and crews.
  3. Amazon, having blanketed the Chicago area with distribution facilities, now plans to add corporate and technology workers downtown. This comes as some Amazon warehouse workers plan to walk out over pay and working conditions as pressure to complete Christmas deliveries builds.
  4. Chicago police are asking for help finding a man and woman who recovered two kittens who had been tossed into a trash bin at O’Hare International Airport earlier this month. The kittens were inside a pet carrier that was stolen from a traveler waiting to board his flight on Dec. 6, Chicago police said.
  5. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is adding to his restaurant empire with the opening of his first Chicago eatery. Gordon Ramsay Burger opened last week in River North (2 E. Ontario), in the space formerly occupied by Wahlburger’s.
  6. Today marks the latest Chicago has gone with no measurable snowfall, and with unseasonably warm temperatures ahead, the city may not see any until the new year. The previous date for the latest measurable snow in Chicago was Dec. 20, 2012, the National Weather Service said.

A bright one

Mosaic at Gately Park in Pullman took two years and the help of more than 100 students to create

At Gately Park on the Far South Side, kids study music, play sports like soccer and run track.

A mosaic that wraps a large column outside a youth center at the park captures all of that.

It took two years, beginning in 2019, to complete, with more than 100 kids working on it through the After School Matters program.

“I feel proud of my kids,” says artist Mirtes Zwierzynski, the leader of the project, who was born in Brazil and moved to Chicago in 1981. “They are able to produce such things with responsibility and consistently under pressure.”


The mosaic at Gately Park in Pullman took two years to complete and involved more than 100 students in the After School Matters nonprofit program.

Cheyanne M. Daniels/Sun-Times

The artwork was installed in November at the park at 10201 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

It features images of a woman singing, with musical notes swirling around her while a woman dances above her. There’s a girl running along a track while a boy kicks a soccer ball. All done with imported Venetian tiles.

Heaven Hill, 17, a Senn High School student who worked on the mosaic, says the students worked on small parts that, in the end, were all fitted together.

“It’s really satisfying,” she says. “You see the entire piece come together really slowly — and just the amount of relief that you feel when you see the entire piece put together all at once.”

Cheyanne M. Daniels has more on the mosaic here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

How do you feel about Chicago’s plan to require proof of vaccination for most indoor businesses?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: As the pandemic continues, how are you feeling about gathering with family for the holidays this year?

Here’s what some of you said…

“I’m only gathering with my adult children. All of us have been vaccinated. I am truly thankful that we have been cautious during the pandemic. I don’t like wearing a mask every day, but I realize that this is protecting me from the virus. Your good health is a gift.” — Elizabeth Elfrink

“Not real confident. My oldest unvaccinated daughter refuses to get vaccinated along with my ex-wife. So, I’m not sure what’s going to happen.” — Dave Martinez

“I have an unvaccinated preschool and family members who won’t vaccinate so not thrilled. My kiddo will be wearing a KN95 for the big family gathering.” — Joanna Milano

“Conflicted and weary but will stay masked.” — Larry Birt

“Just us. I got a breakthrough infection and passed it onto one of my young unvaccinated children. We’re quarantined until further notice. The vaccine does not make anyone immune and I don’t wish Covid on anyone. If you gather, test before and after!” — Crystal Battin

“Currently undergoing chemo for metastatic cancer, so I’m torn...I want to see everyone, but I need to be cautious too.” — Christine Bock

“Like the last 19 months, I’ll be living my life as I have for the past 27 years.” — Ryan Gill

“Still going to gather with my family just like we did last year. We’ve all been vaccinated we all take precautions and we’ve all been tested so we are all good.” — Paulette Brown

“We aren’t doing it. Can’t risk it. Period.” — Lisa Roth

“Honestly, my mother-in-law has been a real witch — so this is the perfect excuse not to see them.” — Dennis Toni Kuritz

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