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Pritzker administration files new emergency COVID-19 rules

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks at his daily coronavirus briefing on May 2, 2020 | Photo: Colin Boyle/My Block, My Hood, My City.

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that his administration had filed new emergency rules aimed at enforcing his face mask and other safety guidelines.

“In an effort to maintain the progress we have made in Illinois’ COVID-19 pandemic response, the Pritzker administration is filing emergency rules for businesses, schools, and child care establishments regarding the use of face coverings and the size of gatherings,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

“These rules provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued, giving local health departments and local law enforcement more leeway to support community public health in a productive manner,” the statement said.

Businesses will first be given a warning in the form of written notice and encouraged to voluntarily comply with public health guidance.

Businesses that do not voluntarily comply a second time 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.

If the business continues to not comply, they can receive a class A misdemeanor and be subject to a fine ranging from $75-$2,500. These 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,” Pritzker said.

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The emergency rules also reinforce the authority of the Illinois Department of Public Health and local health departments to investigate COVID-19 cases and reaffirm that businesses have a responsibility to cooperate with those investigations.

Pritzker also signed senate bill 471 to expand workplace protections for Illinois’ essential 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.

“As we continue to adapt to the changes forced on us by the current pandemic, we have to also create a response that addresses the long-time issues it has exacerbated,” said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford.

“Our essential workers put their lives at risk for us to stay safe, and it is clear that we have to continue to do better to protect working-class people with a renewed commitment to providing basic rights for everyone,” she added.

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

“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,” Pritzker said.


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