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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Pritzker Issues New Mask Orders

Carleigh Gray
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued new mask orders Friday.

Gov. JB Pritzker has created new enforcement rules for mask wearing.

Pritzker said the statewide emergency order allows warnings and then fines of up to $2,500 against businesses and other organizations that do not ensure that people wear masks on the premises. He said Friday during a news conference many businesses already do this, but some do not.

"We want to make sure they are safe and healthy, and this is one way for us to make sure businesses that have been scofflaws on this subject know that there is a real penalty at the end of the line," said Pritzker.

Pritzker said he encourages municipalities to pass their own mask ordinances that could be more strict than the new state rules.

The governor said previous rules did not have as many steps and had only license revocations as a penalty.

"And by focusing on targeted fines as part of a misdemeanor, these rules for scaled penalties that are significantly less harmful to businesses than those currently available for enforcement are the right direction," said Pritzker.

The rules also would apply to schools and child care providers.

Pritzker said the state is at a "make or break" moment of the pandemic, adding the measure is important to allow schools to reopen safely.

“These rules will help ensure that the minority of people who refuse to act responsibly won’t take our state backward,” said the governor, who still needs approval of a bipartisan group of lawmakers for his rules to take effect.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been rising for weeks in Illinois. On Thursday, the state department of public health reported nearly 2,000 new cases. There were 69 cases reported in Peoria, Woodford, and Tazewell Counties and 15 in McLean County.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.