CHICAGO (CBS) — Facing a rise in new COVID-19 cases in Illinois over the last several weeks, Gov. JB Pritzker is issuing new rules allowing local authorities to fine businesses, schools, and child care facilities that repeatedly fail to enforce the statewide mask mandate.

“This is a make or break moment for the state of Illinois for making sure that people are doing everything they can to mitigate, to reduce the spread,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the new emergency rule would set up a three-step enforcement process.

First, businesses will be educated about the need to comply with the requirement for people to wear a mask in public whenever they can’t maintain at least six feet of distance from others. Second, businesses that do not comply will be given written warnings, and ordered to have some or all of their customers leave the premises as needed to comply with public health guidelines. Finally, businesses that repeatedly violate public health requirements will be subject to a Class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine of $75 to $2,500.

“These rules will help ensure that the minority of people who refuse to act responsibly won’t take our state backward,” Pritzker said.

The governor said, without the new rule, local authorities were left with only one option to punish businesses that violate masking and social distancing requirements: revoking their licenses.

“This new rule provides multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued, and by focusing on targeted fines as part of a misdemeanor, these rules for scaled penalties that are significantly less harmful to businesses than those currently available for enforcement are the right direction,” he said. “This is one way for us to make sure that businesses that have been scofflaws on this subject know that there is a real penalty at the end of the line here.”

Pritzker said the new rules would not lead to fines for individuals who violate the mask requirement.

“We wanted not to go after individuals, as best we can,” he said. “I’ve said all along, I do not want for police to be arresting people, or penalizing individuals. On the other hand, I’ve asked local authorities, including police, including local health authorities, to remind people as frequently as they possibly can that they need to follow this mask mandate.”

The governor said he was disappointed the Illinois General Assembly didn’t approve legislation that would have put similar rules into place during its shortened session in May, but said “now is the time.”

This is a developing story…

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