Niles Park Dist. logo.

Cook County issued a new mandate for people entering gyms and fitness centers to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test along with a photo ID prior to entry, along with the same requirements for non-take-out restaurants effective Monday, Jan. 3.

Shortly after initial requirements were announced Thursday, Dec. 23, by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and top officials with the Cook County Dept. of Public Health (DCCDPH), Cook County updated its guidance Friday, Dec. 31, to exempt those 18-years-old and younger from the mandate for park districts, schools, after school and special recreation programs from the proof of vaccination mandate.

Additionally, spectators at events would not be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test so long as no food was served at the events regardless of age. Those 19 and older participating in programs or using facilities would be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.   

That guidance exempting park districts and schools would not apply to the Niles Family Fitness Center, as village-owned and privately owned gyms and other fitness facilities would require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for all patrons over the age of 5. 

Niles Mayor George Alpogianis said signage is posted at the family fitness center and vaccination cards and other proof are being checked.    

View of Niles Family Fitness Center on CIvic Center Drive. (Tom Robb/Journal photo)

Niles and the Golf Maine park districts are requiring proof of vaccinations or a negative test for all but the exempted groups.

“Starting Jan. 3, 2022, a Cook County order requires proof of vaccination for all guests at our facilities age 19 and over. A vaccination card or a clear photo (of a vaccination card) are accepted with a valid photo ID,” Niles Park District Executive Director Tom Elenz said in an email. “Vaccination proof is not required for the following programs: Athletic programs, youth programs, and activities for individuals 18 and under. Spectators of indoor sports where no food or beverage is being served. Any individual participating in special recreation programs.”

He continued, “Vaccination proof will still be required for individuals over 18 participating in any fitness or adult program. Masks are still required in our facilities.”

“We continue to ask for your patience, especially for our front-line staff, as we all adapt to this new requirement,” Elenz concluded.

Niles parks officials said they do use rented facilities throughout the village, but said those are primarily for youth leagues where the mandate would not apply. 

Golf Maine Park Dist.

Mark Resnick, executive director of the Golf Maine Park District said his park district would follow the updated county mandate to the letter.

He said outside adult groups using park facilities would be required to comply with the mandate and, “They (program or fitness participants) will be checked or they can’t participate.” 

Resnick said the majority of all Golf Maine Park District staff are fully vaccinated. He said all staff have had at least one vaccination shot. He said the few requiring a second vaccination shot are expected to have that completed soon. 

On enforcement in the community for the mandate at restaurants, bars, and other health facilities, Alpogianis said county officials said enforcement would be conducted by county health inspectors on a complaint-based system. He said village officials would leave it to county officials to enforce. He said the village would log complaints reported by Cook County to the village.

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