Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that he believes it's "worthy of considering" fines for people who do not comply with the state's mandate requiring masks in public to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Pritzker announced a new $5 million public awareness campaign on Monday with the tagline "It only works if you wear it," to encourage residents to wear face coverings. The initiative compares masks to seat belts in cars, bicycle helmets, life jackets and more in their life-saving capabilities.
When asked his thoughts on imposing fines against people who do not wear masks in public - akin to tickets for those who don't wear seat belts while in a moving vehicles - Pritzker said he believed it's worth considering fines, but at the local level.
"Look, the first thing that we ought to do is make sure that we're enforcing and the way to do that… is first to warn, because the idea here is not to chase people down on the street and say, you know, 'Hey, you're not wearing a mask and I'm gonna throw a ticket at you,'" Pritzker said.
"The first thing is to ask them, remind people, it's often the case people have it in their pocket," he continued. "They have it with them or they have one at home and they've just forgotten. And it's time for them to remember now that they need to wear it."
But Pritzker pointed to the people willfully disregarding the mandate as those who may need to have consequences imposed.
"People who refuse to wear a mask, people who are entering public premises where they know they're supposed to wear a mask and who have been reminded, and who aren't - those people certainly should be, you know, reminded again by police and ultimately, if they're absolutely refusing in public, they're putting other people at risk. So it's worthy of considering fine at a local level," he said.
Pritzker added that the same principle held true for businesses like bars and restaurants, among others, calling it "very difficult for many owners" to enforce the mask mandate without having some form of authority, be it public health officials or police, assist in reminding or warning patrons.
"I've said from the very beginning, the best thing for us to do is simply to remind people, this is going to keep you healthy and your family healthy," Pritzker continued, noting that the reinforcement had worked for "the vast majority of people in Illinois."