File Photo – Foglia YMCA of Lake Zurich | Photo via YMCA Chicago

Starting next month, all of the YMCA’s suburban locations, which includes ones in Crystal Lake, Lake Zurich and Lindenhurst, will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from everyone age 5 and older.

YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Director of Communications Man-Yee Lee said the association’s 14 Y centers will begin enforcing the requirement using a two-phased approach.

In phase 1, the eight centers in Cook County began requiring proof of vaccination on Monday.

Those centers include Lake View YMCA, Irving Park YMCA, South Side YMCA, McCormick YMCA – Humboldt Park, Kelly Hall YMCA – Humboldt Park/Garfield Park, Rauner Family YMCA – Little Village/Pilsen, Buehler YMCA – Palatine, and Greater LaGrange YMCA.

In phase 2, the Y’s other six centers in neighboring counties will begin enforcing the requirement on February 1, which Lee said would give people more time to get vaccinated.

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Those centers include Elmhurst YMCA, Indian Boundary YMCA – Downers Grove, Fry Family YMCA – Naperville, Sage YMCA – Crystal Lake, Foglia YMCA – Lake Zurich, and Hastings Lake YMCA – Lindenhurst.

All patrons who enter the Association’s 14 Y centers will be required to show proof of vaccination along with a photo ID. The requirement applies to everyone 5 years of age and older.

There are limited exceptions, Lee said.

Proof of vaccination for children under the age of 5 and for anyone coming in for less than 10 minutes to make a delivery or use the bathroom will not be required to show proof of vaccination.

Individuals who have previously received a medical or religious exemption and provide YMCA staff with that proof along with a negative COVID-19 result within the last 72 hours.

The proof of vaccination requirement will also not apply to individuals 18 years of age or younger participating in an activity organized by a K-12 school or after-school program, early learning or daycare location.

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“Our intention is not to make things difficult for people to come to our centers. Our intention is to make it as safe as possible to visit our sites. Every time our members walk into a Y location, we want to make sure that they feel confident that we are putting their health and safety first,” Lee said.

“We are a community organization that stands for health and well-being and that means doing everything we can to prevent people from getting the coronavirus. We recognize this is a very contentious issue that is dividing the country right now. But at the end of the day, we HAVE to protect the health and wellness of our members,” Lee added.