State officials announced today (Friday, Aug. 7, 2020) that the Illinois Department of Public Health will file emergency rules for businesses, schools, and child care establishments regarding the use of face coverings and the size of gatherings.
Gov. JB Pritker also signed SB47, which adds a penalty for assaulting or battering a retail worker who is conveying public health guidance.
“This is a make-or-break moment for Illinois,” Pritzker said in a morning news conference.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said face coverings are key to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We are seeing cases increasing each day and hearing about people not complying with the masking mandate,” she said. “This rule is an effort to help keep all of us healthy and decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19.”
New IDPH COVID-19 Emergency Rules
According to a state of Illinois news release, the Governor’s Office is filing emergency rules for businesses, schools, and child care establishments regarding the use of face coverings and the size of gatherings.
Officials say the 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.
Officials said penalties under existing, pre-pandemic enforcement laws include actions such as revoking a license and “are stringent and severe.”
“This gives county public health officials the authority to work with schools to improve hte mitigations they have in place.”
The new 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 to $2,500.
“This is one way for businesses who are scofflaws to know that there are consequences,” Pritzker said during the Q&A portion of the news conference.
The rules do not apply to individuals, and penalties will not exceed a misdemeanor and a $75 to $2,500 fine, the news release said.
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.
Senate Bill 471
The intent of SB 471 is expand workplace protections, “to directly protect workers in retail.”
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.
“This provision sends the message that it’s vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the front lines,” the news release said.
The law also increases paid disability leave for any injury that occurs after March 9, 2020, by 60 days for firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics whose recovery was hindered by COVID-19.
More specifically, eligible employees include:
- Any part-time or full-time state correctional officer or any other full or part-time employee of the Department of Corrections
- Any full or part-time employee of the Prisoner Review Board
- Any full or part-time employee of the Department of Human Services working within a penal institution or a state mental health or developmental disabilities facility operated by the Department of Human Services
- Any full-time law enforcement officer or full-time firefighter
SB 471 takes effect immediately.
SOURCE: state of Illinois news release