A suburban community has announced that it will no longer abide by the terms of a mask mandate issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, saying that masks will now be optional in businesses.
Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson made the announcement this week. He says that the village has been following science, and is now acting to make masks optional as the number of COVID patients in the community, and in the state, continue to decline.
“People are doing well, and I think a bigger reason than that is that people are getting vaccinated,” he said. “As I’ve been saying since January, ‘vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate,’ and it’s working.”
According to the latest data from IDPH, 67.33% of Elk Grove Village residents who are eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated, with just over 70% of residents having received at least one dose.
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Johnson says that those numbers, along with declining case totals and the successful execution of large gatherings in the village without significant outbreaks, have informed his team’s decision to make masks optional in the village.
“We’ve been following the guidelines of the federal government, from the state and also looking locally, and we feel this is the right time to move forward,” he said.
Many business owners in the community, including salon owner Jessica Del Leola, agree with the decision.
“I think that’s the right way to do it,” she said. “Everybody has a choice. If you want a mask, we’ll give you one. But if you choose not to wear a mask, that is your choice.”
Sue Remien, the owner of the Coach’s Corner restaurant, says that her restaurant has been successful in preventing outbreaks, and also supports the decision.
“All of our employees were vaccinated, and we haven’t had one case of COVID in our four walls of Coach’s Corner since the pandemic began,” she said.
Some residents say that they will still wear masks even with the loosening of restrictions.
“I still think we need to wear masks when I go to the grocery store,” Elk Grove Village resident Mary told NBC 5. “I get a little perturbed sometimes.”
Johnson says that the village will remain flexible, saying that if COVID cases rise, the village will review their policy changes.
Meanwhile, the state of Illinois, which hasn’t given metrics that would allow for mask mandates to be eased, has not commented on the decision by Elk Grove Village officials to make facial coverings optional.