Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new statewide restaurant and bar policy requiring all patrons to wear a mask while interacting with waitstaff and other employees, when food and beverages are brought to the table and when picking up carryout orders.
Pritzker announced the new requirement on Tuesday, as the state prepares to crack down on bars, restaurants and casinos in Will and Kankakee counties, after that region surpassed a threshold for positivity rate that sends it backward in its reopening. When the rules take effect Wednesday, indoor dining and bar service in the two counties will be suspended, along with an 11 p.m. curfew for those establishments. A stricter gathering size of 25 people will also be imposed.
Pritzker imposed a mask mandate on May 1 requiring people over the age of 2 to wear a mask, if they are medically able to do so, in most public settings where they are unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
Will and Kankakee counties will be the second of the state’s 11 regions to see stricter rules aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, following the Metro East region last week. But a pair of lawmakers contend that Pritzker’s administration is using a “double standard” in how it’s putting in place the stricter rules.
Sens. Sue Rezin and John Curran, both Republicans, on Tuesday issued a statement that argued Pritzker is putting “partisan politics above science,” noting that the new rules taking effect Wednesday in Will and Kankakee counties will ban indoor dining and bar service, while Metro East “will be given an extra week to improve their numbers.”
Rezin and Curran contend Democratic lawmakers from the Metro East region pressured Pritzker “to change his stance” there.
“The same rules should apply to all regions, and they should be based on science, not politics,” Rezin and Curran said in a joint statement issued just before Pritzker’s news conference Tuesday highlighting the new rules for Will and Kankakee counties, which his office first announced Monday.
Pritzker’s office has said if the positivity rate continues to rise in the Metro East region, additional, stricter rules will likely be imposed Sept. 2.
The state announced on Tuesday 1,680 newly confirmed cases and 29 more deaths of people with COVID-19, raising statewide totals to 223,470 known cases and 7,917 deaths. The seven-day rolling statewide positivity rate is now at 4.1%.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike admonished people to “stop wearing your face covering incorrectly. You’re literally contributing to infection transmission by doing so.”