coronavirus illinois

Everything You Need to Know About the Mask Mandate Beginning in Illinois Friday

The mandate is part of an amended statewide stay-at-home order, which begins May 1

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Illinois residents will soon be required to cover their faces in most public spaces, but there are some things you should know before the rule takes effect.

The mandate is part of an amended statewide stay-at-home order, which begins May 1 and continues through May 30. (Read the full order here)

More than a dozen Chicago suburbs have already implemented similar mask requirements, but on Friday it becomes a statewide order.

Here's what you need to know:

What qualifies as a 'mask'?

The rule means people need to cover their faces when social distancing isn't possible.

"I actually would suggest to people that there are a lot of ways to use a free mask," Pritzker said last week. "I certainly am not going to recommend a particular mask maker, but I shot a video of how somebody can take a T shirt and use it to make a mask with tying it behind their head and, and so on. But you know, but I'm not gonna recommend, I think there are lots of ways to do it. I would recommend somebody go online and just type in homemade mask or homemade face covering And they are, you know, they're much less expensive than trying to buy one online."

When do you need to wear a mask?

Under the stay-at-home order, individuals must wear a "face-covering or mask when in a public place where they can't maintain a six-foot social distance." It applies to anyone over the age of 2 "who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask."

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker now recommends residents wear masks if they must go outside during the stay-at-home order. Here is an easy no-sew face mask with items you probably already have at home.

“I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working — and we need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job," Pritzker said Thursday in announcing the stay-at-home order's extension.

How should you wear your mask?

Face masks are one way to protect yourself and others from the spread of coronavirus, but they're only effective when worn properly. So when you put one on, make sure it covers the most vulnerable spots on your face: the nose and mouth.

Face masks that are big enough to shield your chin are great, but not necessarily essential.

Small gaps are normal and unavoidable, but the fewer there are and the smaller they are, the better. That's because your face mask should form a protective shield around your face.

Ensuring a proper fit can also help you avoid frequently readjusting your mask, which can lead to cross-contamination.

More mask tips here.

How will it be enforced?

Pritzker said police should remind people who aren't wearing a mask of the order and all businesses must require people to have one in order to enter.

"People should wear a mask and it should be they should be reminded if they're not wearing a mask that they're not," he said. "And private establishments do need to require that people who enter their establishment wear a mask."

Pritzker noted that any enforcement will be done on a local level.

"We're not encouraging police officers to stop people and arrest them, or you know, take drastic action," Pritzker said.

But Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she opposed making masks a requirement, citing a lack of access to resources for some city residents.

"I don't believe in giving mandates to people without the tools to be successful," she said, adding that she doesn't plan on arresting or citing people who don't wear a mask.

Lightfoot said earlier this week that any potential policy needs to be reasonable for people across the city.

"We know from the disparities in our city that what is possible in Lincoln Park is not the same as what's possible in Austin, or Englewood or Roseland," she said. "So we have to have a policy that is consistent with the realities of people's lives."

She said she plans to work to make sure residents have the materials to comply.

"We're not going to take it and arrest people because they don't have a face covering," she said.

There are countless videos online that can help you learn to make your own cloth face mask to protect against the coronavirus, but there’s a lot more to it than you might think. We’ll walk you through how to make an easy no-sew mask and what you need to know about using a mask to stay safe.

Why was the order issued?

Pritzker had previously hinted that a requirement to wear masks statewide could be included in a modified stay-at-home order.

"Look, anything that we can do going forward, that will protect people and at the same time make it more likely that we can have slightly, you know, different conditions for stay-at-home, better conditions, is a good move," he said earlier this month.

Pritzker noted at the time, however, that masks are not a substitute for social distancing and such guidelines still need to be followed.

"Let me be clear, wearing a mask is protecting everybody else," he said. "So you're doing everybody else a favor or you know, you're doing the right thing for everybody else in your presence by wearing one. By not wearing one when you're in public, going into a public place or anything like that, you know, it's something you aren't doing to protect other people."

Per CDC guidelines, cloth masks should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage.

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