coronavirus illinois

Illinois' Coronavirus Mask Requirement: When Do You Need One? How Will it Be Enforced?

The mandate is part of an amended statewide stay-at-home order, which now extends through May

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Beginning in May, Illinois residents will be required to cover their faces in public spaces, but when will you need to wear a mask and how will the new rule be enforced?

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, many of which take effect this weekend, but soon it will become a statewide order.

Here's what you need to know:

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 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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