Illinois to Announce Changes to Mask Mandate ‘Shortly' Based on New CDC Guidance, Pritzker Says

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UPDATE: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday afternoon that the state's mask mandate is changing as officials rescind emergency rules enforcing masking and distancing following new guidance for fully vaccinated people from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more here.


Illinois officials plan to announce changes to the state's mask mandate "shortly," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday, based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's newly released guidance easing requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.

"We're working on making changes to our mask mandate in the state to, to meet the CDC's new masking guidance that they gave late last week. So we'll be announcing those changes shortly, it just takes a little bit of time to work through," Pritzker said when asked at an unrelated news conference Monday morning.

The CDC revised its guidelines on Thursday, saying that vaccinated individuals should not be required to wear masks in indoor and outdoor settings, with some exceptions.

Pritzker praised that new guidance on Monday and said he would still wear his mask in some circumstances and planned to proceed "carefully."

"I think this morning, it was the first time that I came out of my home not wearing my mask immediately. There was nobody that was standing there nearby and so I felt comfortable doing that," he said. "I am trying to be careful when I'm in large crowds. You saw that I was wearing my mask seated, I think standing at the podium, with the kind of distance that we have, It seems appropriate not to wear one, you've seen me do that before as well. And I'm going to take it, you know, gently and carefully going forward, but I do think that the CDC's guidelines are good ones and that we will follow them here in the state of Illinois."

Pritzker again encouraged anyone who is not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and others as the masking guidance changes.

"I want to point out, especially for adults who are unvaccinated, one of the reasons that the CDC issued the rules as they did was the recognition that studies have now been done showing that if you're vaccinated, you're protected. If you're unvaccinated, you are not protected," Pritzker continued. "So I encourage people who are unvaccinated still to wear their masks, but to go get vaccinated, because I think we all want to get past this. We all would like to take off our masks but we do need those who are unvaccinated to go get vaccinated, and they can do that right now, today, it is available. You don't need to sign up for an appointment if you don't want to. You can show up at a number of sites and just get vaccinated."

On whether or not people should carry their vaccination cards or if there will be any sort of requirement for people to prove that they are vaccinated in order to not wear a mask, Pritzker said the responsibility will fall on individuals and private businesses.

"That's gonna be up to private businesses and to individuals if they want to carry something like that with them. The state will provide the data and information for private solutions for that if people want to use something like that, there's no requirement, however," Pritzker said. "We are relying upon people to do the right thing, we are relying upon people to recognize that they don't want to infect other unvaccinated people and they don't themselves want to get sick and so it's important for people to protect themselves and I think there's a real motivation for people to go get vaccinated as well."

Pritzker said last week that he plans to revise executive orders based on the CDC's new guidance. The state's guidelines had not yet been changed as of Monday morning, when Pritzker said the state is moving "as fast as we can" to make adjustments.

"As you know, we have a disaster proclamation that needs to be altered. There is a JCAR rule that needs to be rescinded. There are just a variety of things. It's been a complicated, you know, 14 ,15, 16 months of putting in place a mask mandate and making sure that people are following it. And now obviously we're working on unwinding it in an appropriate fashion," he said.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that she wants "clarification" from the CDC on the new guidance, calling the rollout "abrupt."

Lightfoot appeared on MSNBC Monday morning and was asked, "Should people in Chicago wear masks or not?"

"Well, I think we’ve gotta get some clarification from the CDC. The rollout obviously is, the reporting has been, was a bit abrupt, and I think they’ve got a lot of clarification that they need to do," Lightfoot said. "I know for me personally, I’m gonna continue to wear a mask in public and I’m gonna encourage others to do so."

"We’ve gotta make sure that people are continuing to follow the public health guidance that has gotten us this far and masks I think are a big and important part of that," Lightfoot said. "To say, well, if you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask, that’s great, but what about all the other people that are out there that aren’t vaccinated and there’s no way to know that? So I think for the time being, most people are gonna continue to wear a mask outside, outside their homes, and I think that’s smart."

When asked what Chicago is telling businesses about the new guidance, Lightfoot said she's promoting vaccinations while keeping in mind that the city is not "out of the woods."

"I’m telling businesses a couple things: one, get your employees vaccinated, and we're doing everything we can to provide support to those businesses," Lightfoot said, noting a new series of vaccination events at office buildings downtown.

"We're also continuing to make sure that we are social distancing. Even as we open up, we've got good news happening here in Chicago, but by no means, whether it's Chicago or anyplace else in the country, are we out of the woods," she continued. "The virus is still here, the virus is still real, we're still seeing deaths every day, so we can't afford to feel like the virus is gone and suddenly we can just go back to 2019. That's just not gonna happen."

The Chicago Department of Public Health said last week that it was "supportive of this recommendation allowing people who are fully vaccinated to participate in most indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing."

"We will work with the state and our industry and business partners to review and update guidance for specific settings, and expect to broadly follow this new CDC guidance across most settings. This does not, however, mean that masks are going away," CDPH's statement reads.

While local guidelines have yet to be updated, here's a breakdown of when and where you'll need to wear a mask under the CDC guidance:

Where do I still need to wear a mask if I am fully vaccinated?

According to the CDC, "fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing," but there are some exceptions.

Those exceptions include places where masks are required by "federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

Fully vaccinated people should also continue to wear a well-fitted mask in:

  • correctional facilities and homeless shelters
  • If you travel, you will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations

Chicago's health department echoed those claims.

"We also agree with the CDC that masks should be worn during travel, including use of public transit, and that the unvaccinated should continue to wear masks in most settings," the department's statement read.

Some businesses have also announced plans to continue mask requirements at least for now. Others, however, have revealed plans to allow fully vaccinated shoppers to remove their masks.

"We encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping," a message on Trader Joe's website read Friday.

Shoppers will likely need to follow guidance for each individual business.

What if I am not fully vaccinated?

If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to wear a mask in most instances.

Those who are not vaccinated can go outside without masks in some cases, however.

Here's a look at what the CDC says is safe for unvaccinated people to do without a mask:

  • Walk, run, or bike outdoors with members of your household
  • Attend a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends
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