SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A new law passed last week in Illinois amended the criminal code making it a felony for anyone to attack a worker who is enforcing wearing a mask or maintaining social distancing.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker passed the law on Friday that changes the Criminal Code of 2012 in an effort to protect frontline workers.
Pritzker said in a statement Friday that the change is designed to ensure that people wear masks.
These rules, which provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued, are a commonsense way to enforce public health guidelines. Illinois has made substantial progress in our fight against COVID-19 because the vast majority of communities and business owners have done the right thing. These rules will help ensure that the minority of people who refuse to act responsibly won’t take our state backward.— Gov. Pritzker Announces Efforts to Protect Illinois Communities and Frontline Workers in Response to Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
The Criminal Code of 2012 was amended to define an attack on a frontline worker as aggravated battery, a felony in Illinois.
Provides that battery of a merchant is aggravated battery: (i) when the merchant is performing his or her duties, including, but not limited to, relaying directions for healthcare or safety from his or her supervisor or employer or relaying health or safety guidelines, recommendations, regulations, or rules from a federal, State, or local public health agency; and (ii) during a disaster declared by the Governor, or a state of emergency declared by the mayor of the municipality in which the merchant is located, due to a public health emergency and for a period of 6 months after such declaration. Effective immediately.— Illinois General Assembly - Bill Status of SB0471
States have struggled with enforcement of mask mandates which have turned violent.
A Michigan sheriff’s deputy in July fatally shot a man suspected of stabbing another man who had challenged him about not wearing a mask at a store, police said. In May, a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint was fatally shot after denying entry to a customer without a mask.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.