Illinois residents will soon be required to cover their faces when in public spaces like grocery stores, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.
The mandate is part of an amended statewide stay-at-home order, which begins May 1 and continues through the end of the month.
More than a dozen Chicago suburbs have already implemented such requirements, but the latest mandate will make it a statewide order.
Under the 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."
“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.
Pritzker, along with Chicago, Illinois and federal officials, have already recommended residents cover their faces in public, saying the move could help limit the spread of coronavirus by infected people.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she opposes 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."
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.
Pritzker noted, 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.