Police monitor a protest that garnered dozens of attendees on January 23, 2022, at Port Clinton Square in Highland Park. | Photo: Max Weingardt

Private businesses in Highland Park are no longer required to check patrons’ proof of COVID-19 vaccination after the city council decided not to extend the order.

The City of Highland Park issued a statement Friday saying Mayor Nancy Rotering and the city council members determined that the city would not extend the emergency declaration.

The order expired at the adjournment of the city council meeting on Monday.

“Earlier this week, Governor Pritzker reported that IDPH data indicated that the immediate threat to healthcare system capacity during the omicron surge had passed. Statewide ICU bed availability now stands at 20%, up from a low of just under 8%, and the daily total of COVID-19 hospitalized patients and the daily total of COVID-19 patients requiring ICU care have fallen significantly (more than 60% for both) from the omicron peak,” the city’s statement said.

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The Highland Park City Council passed the original proof of vaccination order on December 29 and it went into effect on January 7.

The order required certain businesses to check proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all patrons, including everyone age 5 and older.

The order applied to restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and bars, including fast food and fast-casual establishments.

It also applied to indoor entertainment venues where food and drinks are served, such as movie theatres, live performance spaces, sports arenas, arcades, bowling alleys and other establishments.

The Highland Park City Council discusses during a January 24, 2022, meeting whether to renew an emergency order that requires certain businesses in the city to check patron’s vaccination status upon entry. | Screengrab

The order was extended on January 24 in a 5-2 vote.

The day before the order was renewed, a protest was held at Port Clinton Square near Central Avenue and 1st Street in Highland Park.

The protest, which was called “End the Vaccine Mandate,” was organized by Highland Park resident Suzanne Wahl.

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“Restaurants are the anchor of a community. […] We’re losing our restaurants and when we lose our restaurants we lose our community,” Wahl said during the protest.

“If you want to get a vax, that’s great. But when a governing body says you can’t go to a restaurant unless you have a vax card, that’s wrong,” Highland Park resident Bill Dahms said.

“Why do I have to divulge my medical history, my private medical information, to eat in a restaurant. That’s not about health, that’s about control,” Wahl told ABC7 Chicago.