Chicago coronavirus: Aldermen propose bill making face masks mandatory

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Right now it's just a proposal, but more than 40 Chicago aldermen are co-sponsoring a bill that would make face coverings mandatory, and in some cases punish those who opt out.

Infectious disease experts widely agree face masks and coverings of any kind provide at least some protection against COVID-19.

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"I don't normally wear one," said Tracey Holloway. "Actually, getting one in the mail today and I will be wearing it going forward."

Masks are currently optional in Chicago, but with COVID-19 cases not expected to peak in Illinois until mid-May, many aldermen say they should be mandatory.

"I've seen many people go into retail establishments not wearing a mask," said 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith. "Those are the kinds of interactions, now called community transmission. We just don't need it. We need to come together as a city and say, 'We're going to adopt this way of being for a while.'"

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"It sounds like a great idea, but, when you think about the practicalities of how that's actually going to be implemented, that's where the challenge comes up. And I don't believe in placing any further burden on people," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

Aldermen argue countless charities are passing out homemade masks free of charge.

The suburb of Oak Brook is also now strongly recommending masks, stopping just short of demanding coverings.

"People are more concerned about intruding into civil liberty and though I understand, at this point in time I think public health trumps civil liberties," said Oak Brook Mayor Gopal Lalmalani.

The draft of the Chicago ordinance proposes fining Chicago businesses $750 for not enforcing social distancing or for employees who don't wear masks. The ordinance still needs to be approved by the City Council.
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