GOV DE­FENDS PRO­POSED CHANGES TO MASK RULES

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MADE­LINE KENNEY, STAFF RE­PORTER mken­ney@sun­times.com | @Mad­Ken­ney

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sun­day de­fended his pro­posed new rules for “mod­est” changes to the way the cur­rent statewide mask man­date is en­forced, say­ing politi­cians shouldn’t use a pub­lic health cri­sis for po­lit­i­cal gain.

The new emer­gency rules, which were filed Fri­day by the Illi­nois De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health, of­fer lo­cal of­fi­cials more lee­way to give out warn­ings be­fore fin­ing busi­nesses that don’t fol­low the state’s pub­lic mask­ing and so­cial dis­tanc­ing guide­lines.

Pritzker, who was joined Sun­day by a group of doc­tors and pub­lic health of­fi­cials who shared sup­port for his pro­posed new emer­gency rules, said he be­lieves the rules are “fair.”

“Many, many busi­nesses are do­ing the right thing, but it’s not fair to those busi­nesses when their com­peti­tors are not do­ing the right thing,” Pritzker said. “And so, we think it’s fair to hold every­body ac­count­able, to hold every­body to the same stan­dard and we’re do­ing it in a way that should al­low busi­nesses to get it right.”

Pritzker said hav­ing rules re­quir­ing masks and proper so­cial dis­tanc­ing makes “com­mon sense.” But his new rule changes were met with some op­po­si­tion.

The Illi­nois Re­tail As­so­ci­a­tion on Fri­day is­sued a state­ment say­ing Pritzker should fo­cus on the cus­tomers who refuse to wear a mask rather than “de­mo­nize in­no­cent busi­nesses.” In the po­lit­i­cal realm, Illi­nois House Repub­li­can leader Jim Durkin on Fri­day called on Pritzker to “aban­don his mask rule” and work with the Leg­is­la­ture on the is­sue.

On Sun­day, Pritzker said a pub­lic health cri­sis shouldn’t be politi­cized.

“The worst pos­si­ble out­come for pub­lic health right now is to turn this into po­lit­i­cal foot­ball,” he said.

Pritzker is­sued a statewide mask­ing man­date May 1. Some of Illi­nois’ bor­der­ing states have been slow to fol­low with In­di­ana wait­ing un­til July and Wis­con­sin Au­gust. Pritzker said he’s dis­cussed the im­por­tance in hav­ing a re­gional de­cline in new in­fec­tions with gover­nors from neigh­bor­ing states, and he blamed Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­sponse to the pan­demic for putting states in this po­si­tion.

“If we had re­spon­si­ble lead­er­ship in the White House, if we had lead­er­ship that cared about hav­ing a na­tional strat­egy, we would have dealt with this months ago,” said Pritzker.

State health of­fi­cials on Sun­day an­nounced 1,382 new COVID-19 in­fec­tions and eight new coro­n­avirus-re­lated deaths.

The state’s seven-day pos­i­tiv­ity rate dipped slightly to 4.1%.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker

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