Patrons at restaurants and bars in Illinois must now wear masks when interacting with wait staff and other employees under new state health guidelines, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday.
The new guidelines require patrons at bars, restaurants and other establishments statewide to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose when interacting with staff, state officials said.
This includes when wait staff takes orders, delivers food and beverages or serves tables in general. It applies to indoor and outdoor dining as well as any other facilities with food services areas like indoor recreational facilities, museums and entertainment venues, officials said.
This new guideline goes into effect on Wednesday.
"Customers must follow this rule when food and beverages are brought to the table, when orders are placed, and when picking up carry out orders," Pritzker said at a news conference on Tuesday.
"Illinois has had a mask mandate since May 1, and in most establishments people are adhering to it. But it’s important that we treat hospitality employees just as you would in any retail store or establishment," he continued. "This new requirement asks a little bit more of our residents dining out in order to protect their health and safety and that of our frontline hospitality workers, as well."
"Restaurateurs and bar owners want to remain open for business, and this new requirement will help keep people safe while moving the economy forward – that’s a goal we all believe in," Pritzker added.
Already restaurants in the state require workers to wear a face covering while on the job, and had previously required patrons to wear masks while on the premises, except while eating and drinking at their own table or bar. Health officials said Tuesday that the new guidelines "ensure that while seated, interactions between business staff and patrons can happen safely to prevent possible spread of the virus."
Earlier this month, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urged diners to put their masks back on as servers approach their table.
"I also really want to focus on respecting others, especially those who are going out of their way to respect you. Especially, I want to highlight those who are working in restaurants," Ezike said on Aug. 5. "The waitstaff all has to wear face coverings. When waitstaff come to your table, put your face covering on as well. They are wearing their face covering to protect the patrons and patrons we should do the same and give them the same courtesy. Let's do what's right and protect ourselves and protect others."
The new requirement comes as officials continue to routinely urge residents to wear masks anytime they are in public.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently launched a new $5 million public awareness campaign to encourage residents to wear masks or face coverings using the tagline: "It only works if you wear it."
The initiative compares masks to seat belts in cars, bicycle helmets, life jackets and other items in their life-saving capabilities.
“This campaign connects the dots between daily actions we take to keep ourselves safe and one the best things we can do to fight COVID-19: wearing a mask,” Ezike said in a statement on the campaign.
"When you get in a car, you buckle your seat belt to protect yourself in case you get into an accident. When you play football or ride your bike, you put on a helmet to reduce your risk of seriously injuring your head or brain," Ezike continued. "When you’re on the water, you put on a life jacket so you don’t drown. And when you’re in the bedroom, you use a condom to protect against STIs. A mask is no different. It only works when you wear it.”