Rockford, Illinois News

Illinois retailers group applauds Springfield’s move to fine people $50 for not wearing masks

SPRINGFIELD — Potential fines for businesses that don’t follow COVID-19 masking mandates have been in place for months across the state, but some municipalities are taking the mandate further, including the city of Springfield

Springfield will now issue fines to people who don’t wear a mask when required.

The Springfield city council held back a resolution that requires bars and restaurants with indoor dining to have 25-percent capacity and require patrons to answer a questionnaire. Local officials are allowing indoor dining despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s blanket prohibition he’s issued in regions across the state because of increased COVID-19 positivity rates.

While Springfield leaders held back the resolution laying out the local guidelines to allow indoor service, it passed a mandate, not just for businesses, but for individuals with a $50 fine if they are caught by police without a mask inside a bar, restaurant or retailer.

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said the ordinance requires individuals to wear a mask while indoors at a bar, restaurant or retailer. He said the civil penalty will be in place as long as necessary and enforcement is immediate.

“Right now a restaurant can be cited, right now,” Langfelder said. “The addition is really the $50 per violation for the individual.”

Alderman Joe McMenamin said the ordinance cuts through having multiple steps for immediate enforcement.

“I think this is trying to get right to the police officer eyeballing the violation, someone being maskless, and writing the citations,” McMenamin said.

McMenamin attempted to amend the measure to remove an exemption for someone who claims to have a medical condition, but that provision remains in the ordinance.

Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Rob Karr said the move puts the onus on the individual, not the business owner.

“You can’t physically detain them, you open your selves up to a lot of different charges of discrimination,” Karr said. “So it is where it belongs, having the enforcement done by law enforcement and on individuals.”

Karr said he’d like to see a statewide mandate, but urged other communities to follow suit.

Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole applauded the city for the mandate.

“I think the action tonight to impose stricter penalties and restrictions with regards to face coverings is probably one of the few communities that have done that, so this is a big step forward,” Cole said.

Springfield is believed to be the first municipality in Illinois to pass such a measure.

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