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Gov. Pritzker announces emergency rules regarding face masks, gatherings

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CHICAGO (WSIL) -- Governor JB Pritzker announced Friday that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will file emergency rules for businesses, schools, and child care establishments regarding the use of face coverings and the size of gatherings.

According to the governor's office, the rules give "local health departments and local law enforcement more leeway to support community public health in a productive manner."

The process for the emergency rules, as released by the Pritzker administration Friday:

• First, businesses will 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 will 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-$2,500.

The rules do not apply to individuals.

“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,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “These rules, which provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued, are a commonsense way to enforce public health guidelines. Illinois has made substantial progress in our fight against COVID-19 because the vast majority of communities and business owners have done the right thing. These rules will help ensure that the minority of people who refuse to act responsibly won’t take our state backward.”

“We know that face coverings are key to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it only works if everyone wears them,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We are seeing cases increasing each day and hearing about people not complying with the masking mandate. This rule is an effort to help keep all of us healthy and decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19.”

Gov. Pritzker also signed Senate Bill 471, expanding workplace protections for frontline workers.

The legislation 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.

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

Eligible employees include:

• Any part-time or full-time State correctional officer or any other full or part-time employee of the Department of Corrections
• Any full or part-time employee of the Prisoner Review Board
• Any full or part-time employee of the Department of Human Services working within a penal institution or a State mental health or developmental disabilities facility operated by the Department of Human Services
• Any full-time law enforcement officer or full-time firefighter

SB 471 takes effect immediately.

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