On August 11, 2020, Illinois Governor. J.B. Pritzker was successful in a second attempt to criminalize business owners who fail to enforce his mask rules. Under Illinois' new mask rule, local police and prosecutors may impose criminal fines up to $2,500 to enforce his emergency mask order.
Illinois' mask enforcement is directed at businesses that allow the violation of the mask rules – not the individuals refusing to wear the mask. Under this rule, employers can be fined if their employees fail to wear masks after repeated warnings. These rules do not apply to individuals. Penalties will not exceed a misdemeanor and a $75-$2,500 fine.
According to a press release from the Governor's Office dated August 7, 2020:
“As I’ve visited with and listened to mayors and health departments all across our state, it’s clear there is still an even greater need to get people to wear masks – especially to protect frontline workers, whether they’re at the front of a store asking you to put on your mask or whether they’re responding to 911 calls to save those in distress,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “These rules, which provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued, are a commonsense way to enforce public health guidelines. Illinois has made substantial progress in our fight against COVID-19 because the vast majority of communities and business owners have done the right thing. These rules will help ensure that the minority of people who refuse to act responsibly won’t take our state backward.”
The rules provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued:
- First, businesses will be given a warning in the form of written notice and encouraged to voluntarily comply with public health guidance.
- Second, businesses that do not voluntarily comply will be given an order to have some or all of their patrons leave the premises as needed to comply with public health guidance and reduce risks.
- Third, if the business continues to refuse to comply, the business can receive a class A misdemeanor and be subject to a fine ranging from $75-$2,500.
Employers have the obligation to make sure that employees as well ascustomers wear masks if required under the Illinois Covid-19 Orders.
If not already done, employers should create an express policy requiring its expectation that its employees wear masks if required under the Illinois Covid-19 orders and the consequences of refusing to wear masks in violation of the company policy and/or the Illinois Covid-19 order.
If you have any questions, please contact Kristin Tauras at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kristin devotes a significant portion of her practice to employment litigation.