As health experts continue to stress the importance of wearing masks, questions over when and where you should be wearing them continue to rise.
One instance where things get murky is while dining at restaurants.
Already most restaurants in the state require workers to wear a face covering while on the job. Many also require masks while indoors until you are seated at your table.
But as patrons remove their masks to eat, what is the protocol for interactions at the table?
According to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, diners should 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 Wednesday. "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 comments come as officials 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,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi 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.”
Pritzker noted that in 11 counties now under a coronavirus "warning" in Illinois, health officials were seeing "outbreaks at businesses that aren't requiring masks, school graduation parties and social gatherings, people packing into bars and in long term care facilities."
"We've also seen clusters of cases associated with overcrowded restaurants and churches, big sports events including soccer, golf and softball tournaments and an overall rise in cases among those in their late teens and in their 20s," he continued. "And consistently, we have seen too many of these communities not wearing the most important tool that we have to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by individual action, and that is face coverings."
Masks have been mandatory in public in the state since May 1.
"No one is asking you to wear a mask forever," Pritzker said. "But for the time being, until we see a very effective treatment or a vaccine, the best way to safely get to the other side of this emergency is for all of us to follow the mitigations recommended by doctors: wash your hands, watch your distance, wear a mask whenever you're out and about."
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