Newly Approved State Mandates on “Face Coverings” and “Limited Gatherings”
This afternoon the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (“JCAR”) approved an emergency rulemaking of the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) to provide for local enforcement against any business that fails to ensure its patrons comply with: (a) the Governor’s face covering executive order; and (b) the Governor’s executive order that limits public gatherings to the lesser of 50 persons or one-half the applicable occupancy standard. The new emergency rule allows for penalties only against businesses, not individuals, and provides multiple “warnings” before any penalty is issued. The advance warnings are intended to assure greater leniency, and to afford IDPH, local health departments, and local law enforcement agencies more leeway, in compelling compliance with “face covering” and “limited gatherings” mandates. The process is as follows:
- first, businesses will be given a warning in the form of written notice and encouraged to voluntarily comply with the applicable public health guidance;
- second, businesses that do not voluntarily comply will be given an order to have some or all of their patrons leave the premises as needed to comply with the applicable public health guidance; and
- third, if the business continues non-compliance, it can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and subject only to a fine ranging from $75-$2,500.
The Governor’s office clarified in its testimony before JCAR that criminal charges will be the sole decision of the local state’s attorney and circuit court judge. The Governor’s office also stated its intention that penalties only apply to “rogue” businesses that ignore “face covering” and “limited gatherings” mandates, and not to those undertaking good faith efforts to comply.
The new IDPH enforcement rules apply to any “business, service, facility, or organization open to the public,” and includes any portion of a building that is open to the public. The rules are in effect immediately.