Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

ACLU: Governor's Order on Face Coverings Is Enforceable


A spokesperson for the ACLU of Illinois said courts have ruled that laws can be set in the name of public health, which makes Governor J.B. Pritzker's order on face coverings enforceable. 

Ed Yohnka said precedent has been set with vaccination requirements at public schools being imposed because they are considered to be for the good of public health.

“The important thing is that businesses and others can enforce the order, but they ought to do so with a recognition that there's a lot of different kinds of face coverings, and that it shouldn't be a reason for police interaction. And it shouldn't be a reason for discrimination,” Yohnka said.

Pritzker said that he expects retail merchants to follow his executive order requiring face coverings that started Friday, May 1.

‘I think what's important to remember about this particular executive order, is that it allows a wide amount of discretion about the nature of the face covering. It allows people to fashion their own face mask or to use available items such as bandanas or another cloth item to cover their faces in situations where social distancing is impossible,’’ Yohnka said.

“Businesses and other establishments should recognize there are a wide variety of ways by which one can cover the face, which covering the face is the most important element of the order and consider offering coverings for customers who do not have one, or suggesting ways that they might be able to cover their own face.”

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police has no specific recommendations for their members on how they should enforce the executive order.  Some individual law enforcement officials have raised questions about the governor's stay-at-home order, challenging the legality.  A few have indicated they won't enforce it.  

Meantime, grocery stores cannot force people to wear masks while shopping, said Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association

“Obviously they're gonna be complying with the request. They are gonna have to put up signs to ask people to comply. There will be some issues in terms of enforcement. I think there's confusion. Some people thought that think that we can deny access, we can't do that legally. So we're not gonna be able to be the police in this matter. But local law enforcement certainly can,” Karr said.

In a news release, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association pointed to several issues involving the new order and retailers.

  • Shoppers and employees will be required to wear facial coverings while in stores. This rule applies to anyone over the age of two who can medically tolerate a mask, and requires both the mouth and nose to be covered;
  • Stores must impose occupancy limits, restricting the number of people allowed into a store at one time to either 50% of store capacity or limiting customers to five people per 1,000 square feet;
  • Where practicable, stores will establish one-way aisles, which will be designated by signage and/or floor markings;
  • Stores must discontinue the use of reusable bags;
  • Social distancing requirements will be communicated through in-store signage, public service announcements and advertisements.
Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.