Businesses, Customers Navigate Another Illinois Mask Mandate

Some customers are boycotting small businesses when owners need them more than ever, owners say.

A statewide mask mandate will be reinstated on Monday, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. This time, both unvaccinated and vaccinated Illinoisans will be required to wear a mask indoors.

Like the first mask mandate during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, not everyone is on board with the mitigations. Some are boycotting businesses that follow the executive order.

The Sweet and Savory Spot located in Westmont is the latest businesses to lose customers over enforcing the mandate inside the dining room.

Danielle Kirin says she has encountered upset customers because of the mask policy, which was already put in place before the order was announced.

“We suffer because we follow it," said Kirin. "It’s hard to be consistent when there are so many changes and everyone kind of doing their own thing on top of it."

Kirin’s small business usually has just four employees working at the bakery.

"If one of us gets sick, we all go down," said Kirin.

While Kirin says her business will follow the mandate, she tells NBC 5 that other businesses have chosen to welcome customers without one.

Jorge Rogel says he’ll seek out those businesses if he doesn’t have a mask on hand.

"Sometimes you don’t have one and that’s how they lose business as well," said Rogel. "If I wouldn’t have had this bandana then I wouldn’t have gone in there. I would have [gone] elsewhere where they may have allowed me to go in without one."

Rogel adds that wearing a mask should be an individual’s choice.

On Thursday, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association applauded the governor’s mask mandate.

Rob Karr, president of IRMA, says customers shouldn’t point fingers at businesses following the law.

"Look, we wish we were not in this position, but we believe the governor’s announcement today is a measured approach and appropriate," said Karr. "We’re being asked to enforce a law; an executive order that’s put in place by a legal authority of the state, the governor of Illinois, and businesses are going to do that."

Karr adds that boycotting businesses who follow the law undermines the local sales tax base.

"It harms your friends and neighbors who are employed there," said Karr.

With COVID cases on the rise, there’s no telling how long these mandates will last.

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