New Illinois Law Makes It a Felony to Assault Workers Enforcing COVID-19 Mask Rules
A new Illinois law that passed on Friday, and effective immediately, makes attacking a worker enforcing COVID-19 mask rules aggravated battery.
Image via Getty/AFP/ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS
Illinois residents thinking of punching out retail employees for asking them, often politely, to wear a mask may now want to think twice about doing so since the state has decided to make it a felony to assault workers trying to enforce said mask-wearing policies.
According to CNN, anyone who assaults an employee trying to enforce mask rules can be prosecuted for aggravated battery, which is typically a felony within the state.
The law was passed on Friday, and will be used on those who assault workers for "conveying public health guidance." Obviously that's fancy speak for employees asking people to wear a mask or asking them to social distance. J. B. Pritzker, Illinois' governor, made an effort to explain the decision behind the rule during a Friday news conference.
In that conference he said that the measure "offers protections from assault for retail workers, many of whom are tasked with asking the public to follow certain COVID mitigation measures indoors." He added, "In many ways, these workers are now serving at the forefront of public health mitigation efforts in encouraging social distancing and the use of face coverings."
The law was put into effect immediately.
This decision comes as a bunch of incidents have bubbled up nationwide, including a Staples customer (with a cane) getting thrown to the ground in New Jersey, a confrontation (that included pepper spray) between a Ralphs employee and a customer in Los Angeles, and a woman who allegedly urinated in a California Verizon store. There's lots of others.
None of those are examples from Illinois, but no state has been exempt (I mean, these are just the stories that make national headlines). Illinois has dealt with it too.
Back in May, Pritzker signed an order mandating that those in public wear a mask.
In addition to this new law the state also unveiled punishments relative to those owning a business within its borders (so, probably not really for you). Those emergency rules stipulate that businesses who don't comply with repeated requests to abide by existing mask requirements could get a fine between $75 and $2500.