COVID-19 Illinois: New Illinois mask mandate for restaurant patrons takes effect as state reports 2,157 new cases

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020
COVID-19 Illinois: New IL mask mandate for restaurant, bar patrons takes effect
Starting Wednesday, everyone at bars and restaurants must wear a face mask during interactions with a worker.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new face mask mandate for restaurant and bar patrons in Illinois is now in effect Wednesday to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

If you want to eat at a restaurant in Illinois like Lady Gregory, you must wear a mask when the wait staff or other employees come to your table, even if you're sitting outdoors.

Governor JB Pritzker said it's to further protect front line hospitality workers.

"Illinois residents continue to take important steps to protect the safety of our loved ones and neighbors. However, due to a recent uptick in cases, we must take additional precautionary steps when we are out in public," Pritzker said. "Based on conversations and input from industry and business leaders, the State of Illinois is implementing updated guidelines which will allow restaurants and bars across the state to stay open while helping protect the health and safety of patrons and staff."

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The new mask rule starts also applies to customers picking up take-out orders.

Officials said all masks must be worn properly, which means over the nose and mouth.

For months, bar and restaurant patrons, have been allowed to remove their face coverings once seated at their table.

Starting Wednesday morning across all of Illinois, customers must put on their masks while interacting with wait staff and other employees including when orders are taken and food is being served inside or outside.

The breakfast crowd at the Original Pancake House in the Gold Coast has been following the new rule Wednesday morning.

"So far everybody has been good. Everybody has been very cooperative," said Craig Arrigoni, GM of the Original Pancake House Gold Coast. "We just try to be as nice about it as we can and just explain it's a requirement."

Restaurant patron Barb Hogan said the change is no big deal.

"I'm happy to wear a mask in exchange for not having to sit in my house all the time and for small businesses and big to be in business, I am more than happy to do that," she said.

The new mask rule also applies to customers picking up take-out orders.

Officials say all masks must be worn properly, which means over the nose and mouth.

Some say the rule isn't very practical, taking a face covering off and putting it back on for as many times as a restaurant employee comes to the table.

"I'm gonna follow the rules, but I think it's a difficult thing to do," said restaurant patron Michael DeVito. "I don't know if it's gonna help dining. It might hinder dining."

Pritzker says the new measure is geared to further protect front line hospitality workers and some diners like Cynthia Burke are happy to comply.

"I'm living in Iowa now just across the border," Burke said. "We don't have enough regulations on masks but Illinois I figure has done a good job."

Some restaurant managers say the new rule may be hard to enforce and some servers also worried it could cost them tips.

This comes as the state announces 2,157 new COVID-19 cases and 37 additional deaths on Wednesday. The death toll is the highest single-day total since July 7. .

Governor JB Pritzker announces a new statewide policy requiring all bar and restaurant patrons to wear masks when interacting with employees

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a total of 225,627 cases and 7,954 deaths Monday.

Within the past 24 hours, Illinois laboratories reported 50,362 specimens for a total of 3,831,412.

Click here for the full list of mitigation requirements.

The statewide positivity rate for the period of Aug. 19 - 25 stands at 4.0%.

As of Tuesday night, 1,573 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 350 patients were in the ICU and 132 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Meanwhile, new mitigation efforts in Will and Kankakee counties, known as Illinois' Region 7, are now in effect.

The new restrictions mean indoor service at bars and restaurants will be banned, reservations at both bars and restaurants will be required, and outdoor service must end at 11 p.m.

Social gatherings must be limited to 25 people, party buses are not allowed, and gaming and casinos must close at 11 p.m., are limited to 25% capacity, and must follow the same mitigation rules as bars and restaurants if applicable.

"This is a red alert for everyone who works and lives here and it demands a renewed effort to slow the spread of COVID-19," Governor Pritzker said.