Merchant Group Blasts Pritzker Plan To Make Businesses Responsible For Mask-Wearing

Mask Sign In Window
Photo credit (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The head of the state’s largest retailer’s group is speaking out against Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s attempt to effectively foist mask enforcement on businesses.

Pritzker, a Democrat, on Friday said his administration was imposing an emergency rule that creates escalating penalties for businesses that fail to ensure employees and patrons are wearing masks. First, the governor says, business owners would undergo education if their store does not comply. For subsequent failures, authorities would issue a warning and fines of up to $2,500.

Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said fining store owners doesn’t make sense because they can’t control other peoples’ behavior.

He said the association would be fine with rules that hold stores accountable for things they actually can control, like encouraging social distancing and capacity limits.

What if people refuse to wear masks and won’t leave?

Karr said, up to now, police across the state have been reluctant to get involved. So, there’s nothing more that merchants can do, he said.

Pritzker's move comes as the state is reporting increasing numbers of coronavirus cases each day. Friday's total exceeded 2,000 — a level that hasn't been reached for several weeks.