IL Gov. Pritzker announces new rules, signs bill for frontline worker protections

IL Gov. Pritzker announces new rules, signs bill for frontline worker protections
(Source: WFIE)

ILLINOIS (WFIE) - IL Gov. JB Pritzker joined industry leaders to announce new guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Pritzker announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will file emergency rules for businesses, schools, and child care establishments regarding the use of face coverings and the size of gatherings.

“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.

The rules provide several opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued, giving local health departments and local law enforcement more leeway to support community public health.

The process is as follows:

  • 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.

These rules do not apply to individuals and penalties will not exceed a misdemeanor and a $75-$2,500 fine.

The emergency rules also reinforce the authority of IDPH and local health departments to investigate COVID-19 cases and reaffirm that businesses have a responsibility to cooperate with those investigations.

The governor also signed SB471 to help protect workers who continue to serve on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.

To directly protect workers in retail, the law adds a penalty for assaulting or battering a retail worker who is conveying public health guidance, such as requiring patrons to wear face-coverings or promoting social distancing.

This provision sends the message that it’s vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the front lines.

“As we continue to adapt to the changes forced on us by the current pandemic, we have to also create a response that addresses the long-time issues it has exacerbated,” said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford. “Our essential workers put their lives at risk for us to stay safe, and it is clear that we have to continue to do better to protect working class people with a renewed commitment to providing basic rights for everyone.”  

The law also increases paid disability leave for any injury that occurs after March 9, 2020 by 60 days for firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics whose recovery was hindered by COVID-19.

More specifically, eligible employees include:

  • Any part-time or full-time State correctional officer or any other full or part-time employee of the Department of Corrections
  • Any full or part-time employee of the Prisoner Review Board
  • Any full or part-time employee of the Department of Human Services working within a penal institution or a State mental health or developmental disabilities facility operated by the Department of Human Services
  • Any full-time law enforcement officer or full-time firefighter

SB 471 takes effect immediately.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 188,424 total confirmed positive cases in Illinois and 7,594 deaths.

[Find more statistics on the Illinois Coronavirus Website]

Here are the current COVID-19 numbers in our part of Illinois:

  • White Co. - 64 cases
  • Wayne Co. - 55 cases, 1 death
  • Wabash Co. - 34 cases
  • Edwards Co. - 17 cases

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