Illinois Mask Requirements: New face mask order changes mandate amid coronavirus pandemic

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, May 1, 2020
Illinois face mask requirement starts Friday: What to know
Starting Friday, if you have to be out for work or essential needs, like groceries, you will need to wear a face mask.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois residents are now required to wear a face mask or covering in public, but what exactly does the new rule mean?

Illinois will remain under a stay-at-home order until at least the end of May, as Governor JB Pritzker extends social distancing guidelines in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

RELATED: What to know about coronavirus cases in Illinois

The extended order, which takes effect May 1, aims to ease up on restrictions across the state. However, Illinoisans will be required to wear a face mask in public when social distancing isn't an option.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has released guidance on the use of masks by the general public.


As public health experts continue to learn about the novel coronavirus, they believe the virus is spread between close contact via respiratory droplets produced when people cough, sneeze, or talk; or by contact with contaminated surfaces. While staying home, social distancing and strict hand hygiene are still preferred methods of preventing further spread of COVID-19, facemasks are one more tool health experts now believe will help protect the general public. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention originally advised against the use of face masks for healthy people, research increasingly suggests coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms. The CDC has updated these guidelines, taking into consideration how face masks affect transmission.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone over the age of 2 wear cloth face coverings in public where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores, pharmacies and other public settings where community-based transmission is significant.

CDC officials say the use of a simple face covering can help slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

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All Illinoisans should wear a mask or face covering when they must leave their home or report to work for essential operations. The guidance is especially important when people cannot or it is impractical to maintain 6 feet of physical distance, as advised by the CDC.

Example areas include:

  • Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies;
  • Picking up food from drive thru or curbside pickup;
  • While visiting your health care provider;
  • Traveling on public transportation;
  • Interacting with customers, clients, or coworkers at essential businesses;
  • Performing essential services for state and local government agencies, such as laboratory testing, where close interactions with people are unavoidable, and;
  • When feeling sick, coughing, or sneezing.
  • The most effective measure for preventing further spread of COVID-19 remains staying at home when you are sick.

    RELATED: Chicago cloth mask drive gets underway ahead of new statewide face covering requirements


    Those who are staying at home and have no close contacts that are infected with COVID-19 do not need a mask while at home.

    Other situations that don't require a mask or face covering include:

  • Running or walking in your neighborhood;
  • Mowing the lawn, performing spring yard cleaning; gardening;
  • Driveway car washing, and;
  • Other outdoor activities on your own property.
  • RELATED: How to wear a face mask correctly


    Best practices for homemade masks or face coverings include:

  • Using materials available at home or buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places;
  • Purchasing masks made by small businesses, saving medical masks for healthcare workers and potentially helping the local economy;
  • Making masks from materials that will hold up to daily washing and drying. Wash and dry newly sewn masks before using them for the first time;
  • Having more than one mask per person so they can be laundered daily. This will also be helpful if your mask becomes wet, damaged, or no longer fits and you need to replace it;
  • Washing your hands with alcohol-based hand rub, or soap and water before putting on a mask, immediately after removing it, or if you touch the mask while using it;
  • The mask should fit snugly around your mouth and nose. A metal wire sewn or built into the mask will help it conform to the bridge of your nose;
  • Avoiding touching the mask while using it. If you do, wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub;
  • There are relatively few studies of the effectiveness of mask made from homemade materials. Whether you use cotton fabrics, paper-based shop towels, or other materials, try to strike a balance between the materials you already have at home, how easy it will be to breathe while wearing the mask for extended periods away from home, and whether or not you would prefer to craft a new mask everyday (paper) or wash and reuse your mask(s);
  • Replace your mask when wet, damaged or it no longer fits your face. Masks should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus;
  • Try to avoid touching the outer surfaces of the mask when removing it. Remove the mask by untying it or unfastening the ear loops. Place it in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until it can be laundered.

    Health experts say it is a good idea to wash your mask or face covering at least daily.

    Place your used mask in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until they can be laundered with detergent and dried on a hot cycle.

    If you remove and reuse your mask before washing, consider putting it in a plastic or paper bag (not your backpack or purse) and be mindful not to put the mask where others can touch it or where the mask will contaminate other shared surfaces.

    Always wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.

    Paper-based masks should be discarded after each use, according to IDPH.


    Fabric masks, scarves or bandanas should work just fine -- as long as the material allows you to breathe while wearing it.

    DIY Face Mask without sewing

    DIY Face Mask with Sewing Machine

    Prepare the mask:

  • On 8 1/4 inch piece, place right sides together, sew 1/4 inch seam, creating tube.
  • Turn right sides out, press seam and fabric.
  • Make 3 pleats, approx. 1 inch each in size, using steam or pins to hold. Mask will be approx. 3 to 3.5 inches in width.
  • Sew 1/4 inch seam on each side of mask, securing pleats.
  • Trim seam allowance.
  • Prepare the ties:

  • Fold in half and press (3/4 inch). Open tie back up.
  • Fold each edge in to meet middle (3/8 inch/0.375 inch) and press.
  • Fold in half again, securing raw edges inside and press. Each tie will be approx. 3/8 inch in width.
  • Assembly:

  • Align center of tie with side of mask, open tie so edge of mask fits snugly inside. Pin.
  • Sew tie to mask, seam will be very short. Get as close as able while still catching all fabric. You are just attaching the mask to the tie at this point, not sewing the whole tie yet.
  • Repeat for other tie and other side of mask.
  • Sew down edges of tie, securing raw edges inside. Seam is very short. You will stitch over where mask is already attached. This is good because it helps reinforce.
  • Repeat for other tie and other side of mask.
  • Click here for tutorial on how to make a no-sew face mask from a T-shirt.

    Click here for tutorial on how to make a no-sew face mask from a bandana.