East Bank Club’s members and staff are fully vaccinated as of Oct. 1, so the high-end health club wants an exemption to the city of Chicago’s mask mandate, CEO Mel Kleist said.
As of Oct. 1, the club’s more than 8,000 adult members and 450 working staff have verified that they’re vaccinated following the vaccine mandate announced Aug. 16, Kleist said in a memo to senior management this morning.
Everyone 16 and older who enters the 350,000-square-foot health club, on Kingsbury Street along the Chicago River, has confirmed their status or demonstrates proof of vaccination upon entry, the memo says.
“It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been the right thing to do for members and employees and to put this health crisis behind us,” Kleist told Crain’s.
The club has about 10 unvaccinated employees on leave and some members have left because of its push for a fully vaccinated facility. He said he estimates no more than a half-percent of members left because of the vaccine mandate and that the influx of new members and reinstating members has outpaced any departures. The employees who haven’t given the club verification of vaccination “are on leave at this point.”
Kleist said that with full vaccination, he planned to reach out to city officials about exempting East Bank Club from the requirement that people in indoor spaces like health clubs must wear masks. City officials did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Masks are already coming off at the club, Kleist said, although there are signs about the mask requirement and employees offer masks to members who are not wearing them. Many members have a hard time believing masks are necessary because of the club’s vaccine mandate, he said.
“We’re doing everything to comply with the requirement, but our employees are not mask police,” Kleist said.