Pritzker issues rule to penalize businesses that violate mask requirements with fines up to $2,500

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CHICAGO — Governor JB Pritzker announced new COVID-19 guidelines Friday in an effort to slow the rise of coronavirus cases in Illinois.

The guidelines come after health officials confirmed nearly 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday — reporting the biggest single-day increase since late May for the second time in a week.

Pritzker said his administration is filing new emergency rules to require businesses and schools to enforce the mandatory face mask rules — or be fined.

The governor issued a statewide mask mandate on May 1 for most people in most public settings, but enforcement has been an issue.

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According to Pritzker’s office, businesses that don’t comply with the mask mandate will be given a written notice warning. If they don’t voluntarily comply, businesses will then be given an order for patrons to leave the property “as needed to comply with public health guidance and reduce risks.”

Currently, the governor said the only way to enforce the rules is by revoking a business’ license. He thinks this is the way to go to try and get more compliance. The legislation he signed Friday will help front line workers and those trying to make sure people follow the states distancing and mask mandates.

Some critics call the proposed rules a slap in the face.

Art Potash, who owns three markets in Chicago, agrees with the governor’s intent, but disagrees with the method.

“It’s a very difficult environment,” Potash said. “And I think the fines burden being placed on retailers is going to make that even more difficult.”

If businesses still do not comply, they can receive a class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine of $75 to $2,500.

“This is one way for us to make sure that businesses that have been scofflaws on this subject know that there is a real penalty at the end of the line here,” Pritzker said Friday.

The new mandates do not apply to individual people and the penalties will not exceed a misdemeanor.

The proposed rules still need to be approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

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