Illinois businesses no longer required to enforce face covering, won’t be required to check vaccine status


Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s emergency rule requiring businesses to mandate masks has been repealed and a leading retailers association says they are not being asked to check your vaccine status, but they could if they wanted.

Pritzker first issued a mask mandate on May 1, 2020. He then filed consecutive 150-day emergency rules requiring businesses to post the mask mandate on their entrances and to enforce the mandate. The latest emergency rule that was set to expire in early June was repealed Wednesday.

After the new mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pritzker administration updated its guidance that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks indoors in most instances.

The latest order issued Monday says the governor’s “bridge” reopening plan does require retailers to “cap occupancy at 60 percent of store capacity, or, alternatively, at the occupancy limits based on store square footage,” though vaccinated individuals don’t count to that.

Retailers must also “communicate with customers through in-store signage, and public service announcements and advertisements, about the social distancing and face-covering requirements,” the order says, but that doesn't impact vaccinated people.

Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association President Rob Karr said retailers are not being asked to post anything about a universal mask requirement. They’re also not being required to check vaccine status, though they could.

“But that’s a real practical impossibility,” Karr said Wednesday. “There’s fake vaccination cards out there. For most retail outlets, or for businesses for that matter, it’s just a practical impossibility. It’s a significant diversion of manpower.”

Chicago announced attendees of the outdoor music festival Lollapalooza this summer will have to show proof of vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test.

It is possible things could revert to more strict guidelines if the COVID-19 numbers trend upward, Karr said.

“The pandemic has certainly taken twists and turns over the course of the last 18 months or so but we remain hopeful that we’ve turned a corner,” Karr said.

Despite the relaxed face-covering rule, Illinois lawmakers are still wearing masks while doing the people’s business.

In the Illinois House Tuesday, state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said lawmakers should drop the masks while legislating to set an example for the rest of the state.

“It’s time to open, it’s time for people to go to work, it’s time for us to get out with our friends, it’s time to help our mental health,” Batinick said. “The CDC guidelines are pretty clear: If you’re vaccinated, you don’t need a mask inside.”

State Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, responded that the mandate should stay in place on the House floor. She said lawmakers are too close together while legislating and she worried the vaccine may not fully protect members.

“So I would like to go home and have everybody around me be healthy and I would appreciate your compliance with the House rule,” Manley said. “I’m a ‘say I’m sorry' instead of asking for permission kind of person, but when it’s life and death, I think we need to follow the rules.”

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