New Illinois laws protect workers who ask customers to wears masks, enacts fines for non-compliant businesses

JB Pritzker
Photo credit (UPI:Bill Greenblatt)

(KMOX) - Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced on Friday that he signed SB471 to help protect workers who continue to serve on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.

The new law will directly protect workers in retail by adding 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.

Pritzker says the message is vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the front lines. A release from the governor didn't describe what exactly the punishment will be.

The governor also announced his administration is filing emergency rules for businesses, schools, and child care establishments regarding the use of face coverings and the size of gatherings.

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. While existing, pre-pandemic enforcement laws, like revoking a license, are stringent and severe, these rules provide flexibility for local communities and a measured process to help keep people safe.

That process is as follows:

  • 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.

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

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

You can watch the full press conference in the video at the top of this page.

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