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Pritzker rule would fine business that violate mask order

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that public health officials may issue fines to Illinois businesses where employees or patrons aren’t wearing face coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Posted: Aug 7, 2020 5:24 PM
Updated: Aug 8, 2020 6:41 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that public health officials may issue fines to Illinois businesses where employees or patrons aren’t wearing face coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Pritzker said the emergency rules he filed focus on “scofflaw” businesses who flout the requirement since May 1 that people in public who are unable to keep 6 feet away from others must wear masks. Enforcement begins with warnings and can result in fines of $75 to $2,500.

Since a reduction in infections in June prompted Pritzker to re-open businesses and allow for larger groups — up to 50 — to gather, the highly contagious and sometimes-fatal virus has been on a summerlong rebound.

“It’s clear that there is still an even greater need to get people to wear masks, especially to protect frontline workers, whether they’re (associates) at the front of the store asking you to put on your mask, whether they’re (rescue workers) responding to 911 calls to save those in distress,” Pritzker said.

Enforcement begins with a warning letter that the business is not complying with social restrictions. A second warning could mean reducing the number of patrons in an establishment to meet maximum crowd guidelines. A third violation could mean a fine. But Pritzker says it’s preferable to current law, in which the lone enforcement mechanism for violations is license revocation.

Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association, called the initiative “a slap in the face” to retailers who have sacrificed so much during this pandemic” while it’s reckless individual behavior that fuels it.

“If the goal is to put public health above politics, the administration will amend the rule to focus enforcement efforts on individuals who are not complying instead of punishing and attempting to demonize innocent businesses,” Karr said.

The Democrat’s announcement in Chicago came the same day that Illinois reported 2,084 new cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the highly contagious and sometimes-fatal coronavirus. It’s the first time since May 24 that the number has topped 2,000.

The illness has now claimed more than 7,600 lives among more than 190,000 infections of people, most of whom have recovered but who could suffer long-lasting effects. And the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Friday that 13 counties are on COVID-19 “warning level” status, meaning unchecked surges in virus transmission could result in greater social restrictions.

Pritzker’s rule requires approval by the bicameral, bipartisan Joint Committee of Administrative Rules, the group of lawmakers who couldn’t reach a decision on Pritzker’s May attempt to establish enforcement for violating safety guidelines.

Rep. Jim Durkin, the Western Springs Republican who is minority leader of the Illinois House, said Pritzker should dump his “mask rule” and offer the issue for legislative debate.

“I am committed to respecting his priorities while recognizing the undue hardship his current rule places on businesses that are already struggling across Illinois,” Durkin said.

Durkin has previously issued unheeded calls for special sessions to debate how the economy and state would be re-opened and released from social restrictions and to take up long-delayed ethics reforms after a federal deal in which ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine to settle a Statehouse bribery claim, announced last month, implicated Chicago Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. He has not been charged with wrongdoing. Durkin again sought an ethics debate in Friday’s announcement.

Pritzker also signed a measure into law adding penalties to those who assault retail workers who are asking patrons to abide by safety guidelines. The law also provides 60 days of additional disability leave to some state and local government employees such as correctional officers and firefighters for those whose recovery was slowed by COVID-19.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1312620

Reported Deaths: 24056
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook5258549860
DuPage871721255
Will72414968
Lake65012969
Kane56108756
Winnebago31421460
Madison29941515
McHenry27305279
St. Clair27246504
Peoria21618285
Champaign19921139
Sangamon17912230
McLean17130172
Tazewell16176259
Rock Island14360305
Kankakee13622199
Kendall1245290
LaSalle11878233
Macon10307191
DeKalb9432118
Vermilion9117128
Adams8243117
Williamson7236126
Whiteside6937166
Boone644671
Ogle581578
Clinton571890
Grundy563771
Coles555094
Knox5354137
Jackson487263
Henry475863
Effingham468672
Livingston462583
Macoupin461181
Stephenson455981
Woodford444364
Marion4419115
Franklin433870
Monroe431990
Jefferson4174119
Randolph409584
Lee401951
Morgan378279
Fulton370050
Logan367156
Montgomery364773
Bureau355481
Christian353172
Fayette314154
Perry313059
Iroquois291564
Jersey263849
McDonough262344
Douglas255335
Saline251753
Lawrence239525
Shelby225137
Union223040
Crawford209325
Bond199424
Cass195124
Jo Daviess177724
Pike177551
Clark176832
Warren174646
Wayne173652
Hancock173230
Richland172140
Carroll172036
Ford170746
Edgar167239
White166626
Washington162825
Moultrie157826
Clay147443
Mason143242
Greene142633
Piatt142014
Johnson140314
De Witt139823
Mercer137333
Wabash134112
Massac131440
Cumberland128319
Menard119112
Jasper114317
Marshall99917
Hamilton82415
Schuyler7125
Brown6896
Pulaski6807
Stark61523
Edwards55912
Henderson52114
Calhoun5122
Scott4691
Alexander46211
Gallatin4534
Putnam4533
Hardin37012
Pope3073
Out of IL30
Unassigned02301

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 711787

Reported Deaths: 13252
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion970181723
Lake52028950
Allen39414672
Hamilton34709406
St. Joseph34386543
Elkhart27543433
Vanderburgh22109394
Tippecanoe21967213
Porter18043301
Johnson17600374
Hendricks16873310
Clark12728190
Madison12379337
Vigo12248244
Monroe11535166
LaPorte11258204
Delaware10390184
Howard9712211
Kosciusko9184114
Hancock8031139
Bartholomew7925155
Warrick7709155
Floyd7574176
Wayne6921198
Grant6862171
Boone6584100
Morgan6425138
Dubois6101117
Marshall5819109
Dearborn572076
Cass5706104
Henry5591101
Noble544583
Jackson494672
Shelby481995
Lawrence4351118
Gibson429789
Harrison429371
Clinton421853
Montgomery419387
DeKalb414484
Whitley383239
Huntington380480
Miami374165
Steuben368757
Knox367589
Putnam353660
Jasper352946
Wabash348578
Adams338453
Ripley335769
Jefferson318180
White309254
Daviess290199
Wells286981
Decatur279792
Fayette277362
Greene270685
Posey269533
Scott262053
LaGrange256170
Clay255245
Randolph236780
Washington231931
Spencer228231
Jennings225548
Fountain209845
Sullivan208342
Starke206452
Owen192956
Fulton192440
Jay186629
Carroll186120
Perry181436
Orange178553
Rush170824
Vermillion166543
Franklin166035
Tipton161543
Parke144616
Blackford134131
Pike130934
Pulaski114445
Newton104434
Brown100740
Crawford98114
Benton97613
Martin83315
Warren80215
Switzerland7728
Union70210
Ohio56011
Unassigned0408