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Pritzker proposes new rules to get tougher on businesses that don't comply with face mask use

Rules do not apply to individuals, penalties will not exceed a misdemeanor and a $75-$2,500 fine

Governor JB Pritzker, addresses the rising rates of Covid-19 in the LaSalle County area at the LaSalle County Emergency Management Agency Thursday. Tom Sistak Photo
Governor JB Pritzker, addresses the rising rates of Covid-19 in the LaSalle County area at the LaSalle County Emergency Management Agency Thursday. Tom Sistak Photo

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday morning that the Illinois Department of Public Health will file emergency rules for businesses, schools and child care establishments regarding the use of face coverings and the size of gatherings.

Pritzker said the new rules, which need a legislative sign-off before taking effect, would provide businesses with multiple opportunities to get in compliance with enforcing the state's face mask requirement before scaled penalties can kick in.

Pritzker said he wanted a minimum enforcement mechanism as opposed to the current rules, which go straight to a misdemeanor for violations.

“As I’ve visited with and listened to mayors and health departments all across our state, it’s clear there is still an even greater need to get people to wear masks – especially to protect frontline workers, whether they’re at the front of a store asking you to put on your mask or whether they’re responding to 911 calls to save those in distress,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said these new rules would only apply to businesses, schools and child care facilities, not individuals.

The penalties for businesses, schools and child care facilities not enforcing the face mask requirement would include a three-step process to be implemented by local law enforcement and health departments.

First, businesses would be given a warning in the form of written notice and encouraged to voluntarily comply with public health guidance.

Second, businesses that do not voluntarily comply can be given an order to have some or all of their patrons leave the premises as needed to comply with public health guidance and reduce risks.

Third, if the business continues to refuse to comply, the business can receive a class A misdemeanor and be subject to a fine ranging from $75 to $2,500.

"These rules for scaled penalties that are significantly less harmful to businesses than those currently available for enforcement are the right direction," Pritzker said.

The emergency rules need go to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which is scheduled to meet next week, before they can be implemented.

"There are some businesses not enforcing rules, and they need to be reminded and reminded and then fined." Pritzker said.

Pritzker also signed Senate Bill 471 to expand protections for frontline workers.

The law adds a penalty for assaulting or battering a retail worker who is conveying public health guidance, such as requiring patrons to wear face coverings or promoting social distancing.

The law also increases paid disability leave for any injury that occurs after March 9, 2020, by 60 days for firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics whose recovery was hindered by COVID-19.

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