Pritzker Defends New State Health Department COVID-19 Mask Rule

Pritzker Announces New Rules Around Mask-Wearing
Photo credit WBBM
CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Illinois is getting tougher on wearing masks.
Sunday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended a new rule by the Illinois Department of Public Health that requires face coverings for businesses, schools and childcare providers.
The new rule also gives businesses a warning before a fine for not enforcing masks.
"The rule allows a modest level of enforcement similar to what other states already have. This new rule prioritizes education and support for businesses over shame and punishment,” Pritzker said during the press conference.

Pritzker on Friday announced his administration’s filing of new emergency rules to require businesses to enforce mask requirements that include the possibility of fines up to $2,500.  

“Let me put it this way: Imagine if employees didn’t wash their hands or cooks could stick their bare fingers into your food and the owner said simply, ‘Hey, no big deal.’ Imagine if someone could walk into a restaurant, light a cigarette and blow smoke into your face and all the smoker had to say was, ‘Well, it’s my choice,’” Pritzker said on Sunday. 


The governor said this new rule is better than the “arcane rules” currently available that were written years ago and not with the coronavirus pandemic in mind. “The old rules leave no room for middle ground” and could cripple businesses and destroy livelihood while the new rule "protects the public and treats businesses fairly," Pritzker continued. 

Pritzker said 82% of Americans support a mask mandate, adding that medical professionals feel wearing face coverings is the best option to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Illinois Public Health Association and Illinois Association of Safety-net Community Hospitals have already sent out statements this morning in support of Pritzker's proposed rule with calling critical to help keep communities safe. 

The governor is asking the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to pass the mask rule when it meets on Tuesday. 

The IDPH announced Sunday that there were 1,382 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease in Illinois, including eight additional confirmed deaths. Currently, the health department is reporting a total of 194,080 cases, including 7,636 deaths, in 102 counties across Illinois.