coronavirus illinois

Yes, Illinois Still Has an Indoor Mask Mandate. Here's Where You Need To Wear One

As the holidays approach and cold weather sets in, here's what the indoor mask order means for you.

Woman wearing protective face mask and looking at a christmas market stall
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As COVID regulations loosen up across the country, Illinois remains one of six states that still has a mask mandate in effect.

That means masks must still be worn in public indoor spaces in Illinois for those over the age of two and able to medically tolerate a face mask — regardless of vaccination status.

Illinois reinstated its mask mandate in late August, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the time saying the state was "running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds."

A vast majority of Illinois' 102 counties are currently under a "high risk" category in which the CDC recommends residents wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

As the holidays approach and cold weather sets in, here's what the order means for you.

Where In Illinois Do You Need To Wear a Mask?

Illinois' mask mandate applies to all indoor public places, regardless of capacity business type or vaccination status.

That includes everything from restaurants and bars, to offices, to retail shops, to museums, indoor sports arenas, grocery stores and more.

The order does indicate that "face coverings may be removed temporarily while actively eating or drinking (including in bars or restaurants),",and can removed by workers in workplaces, if they can consistently maintain six feet of distance.

Masks, the order states, must also be worn in healthcare settings, correctional facilities and homeless shelters.

Wearing Masks On Buses, Trains, Planes And More

Masks are also required on all forms of public transportation — including on planes, buses, trains and ride share services like Uber and Lyft — and in transportation hubs like O'Hare International Airport, Midway International Airport and Ogilvy Transportation Center.

Does The Mask Mandate Apply To Schools?

The mandate also applies to students and staff in all Illinois schools, both public and private.

Do I Need to Wear a Mask Outside?

The order applies to indoor, public places only. However, it's recommended that residents consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities that involve close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated..

What Local Health Officials And Doctors Are Saying

Defending the mask mandate, Dr. Jennifer Seo, chief medical officer with the Chicago Department of Public Health, said the U.S. is seeing higher numbers of cases in areas where the weather is colder.

Michigan and Minnesota, which don't have mask mandates, have the highest rates of COVID-19, the doctor noted.

"I think context matters in terms of where geographically the states are, and we know for sure that the colder weather," Seo said during a press conference Monday. "We're seeing that in Europe as well. The colder countries are seeing higher numbers of cases, so just something to keep in mind. But I would compare us probably more closely to Michigan or Minnesota where they don't have masks dates like we do here in Illinois and they're seeing highest case rates right now."

Pritzker has not made any announcements about whether the state plans to roll back its mask mandate for indoor spaces.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the CDPH, has indicated that the city would need to see fewer than 200 new COVID cases per day to roll back the requirement, but last week said the city saw more than double that number in recent weeks.

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