When going out in public, using a face mask or covering is recommended but not required in the United States. But for some states, that’s not sufficient.
A group of states has decided over the last few weeks to take it a step further, making the use of face masks or covering mandatory — with Illinois being the most recent example.
When in public, all Illinois residents will now be required from May 1 to use a face mask if the six-foot, or two meters, social distance can’t be maintained. The move is part of a set of new rules by Governor Pritzker.
“I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working,” Pritzker said at a press conference.
Every Illinois resident over the age of two who can medically tolerate the face covering or mask is now forced to use one when being in public indoor spaces, such as stores, according to the new rules. No fines are applied to those who don’t follow the rules though.
At the same time, employees working at essential businesses must wear face masks or face coverings at all times while at work, which have to be supplied by employers, according to the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.
Illinois statewide case total is now over 36,000, with the death toll at 1,668. An additional 1,826 cases and 123 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. According to Pritzker, the state will reach its highest level of cases in Mid-May, which is weeks later than originally expected.
“Make no mistake, Illinois has saved lives. By staying home and social distancing, we have kept our infection and death rates for the months of March and April thousands below the rates projected had we not implemented these mitigation strategies,” Prtizker said.
Illinois is far from being the first state to implement such move, with diverse measures in other seven states: Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, and New Jersey have all announced similar measures.
New Jersey was the first state to make a face mask or covering mandatory. The state requires customers and employees to use them at essential business and construction sites. The same applies to those who use public transportation, with the possibility of denying entry if they don’t comply.
Meanwhile, in Hawaii, customers that visit essential businesses have to wear face coverings, as well as the employees who interact with them. Violating those rules can lead to a fine of up to $5,000 or up to a year in prison.
Similar rules can also be found in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maryland but without fines.
The US has had so far issued erratic guidelines regarding the use of face masks. At first, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said only health workers had to use facemasks but it is now recommending their use for everyone to use them when social distancing can’t be maintained.