By SARAH MANSUR
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker issued a new executive order May 17 that allows fully vaccinated residents to not wear masks inside and outdoors.
The updated rules for mask wearing are nearly identical to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance, which was released last week.
The CDC guidance permits fully vaccinated people to not wear masks or physically distance in any non-health care setting, “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
The CDC still recommends that fully vaccinated people wear masks in health care settings, as well as on planes, trains and other forms of public transportation.
The new executive order requires residents follow this recommendation regarding planes and public transportation. It also permits any entity to continue stricter masking requirements than are required by the state.
“Businesses are encouraged to prioritize the health and safety of their workers and customers, and may continue to require face coverings and social distancing, even for those who are fully vaccinated,” the order states.
Pritzker said it will be up to private businesses to decide if they want to require patrons to provide proof of vaccinations.
“We are relying on people to do the right thing,” he said. “We are relying upon people to recognize that they don’t want to go infect other unvaccinated people and they don’t themselves want to get sick and so it’s important for people to protect themselves and I think there’s real motivation for people to go get that. We’re not going to stop people and, you know, start checking a vaccine passport as part of some state mandate.”
The mask mandate in Illinois took effect last May when Pritzker issued an executive order requiring anyone older than 2 years of age “to cover their nose and mouth with a face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain a six-foot social distance.”
A spokesperson for the secretary of state said the office is awaiting further direction from the governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health about mask rules for the state Capitol Complex.
“Once we do, we will review the information and then will proceed accordingly. We will also consult with the Illinois General Assembly,” spokesperson Henry Haupt said in an email.
The governor’s new order rolling back the mask mandate came as the state is reporting 37.7 percent of the population, or more than 4.8 million people, are fully vaccinated.
About 57 percent of Illinoisans between ages 16 and 64 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, as have 81.3 percent of those 65 years of age or older.
The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reported are decreasing, as the state moved into the “bridge” phase on May 14, increasing capacity limits for various indoor and outdoor venues.
If COVID metrics remain stable, the state is set to fully reopen without limitations on capacity on June 11.
(Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.)