Pritzker says he’s ‘unwinding’ mask mandates in ‘appropriate fashion’

(The Center Square) – After some social media posts this weekend about plans to update the state’s guidance on face coverings, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday said updates are on the way.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance that fully vaccinated people can do most things without a mask.

“I firmly believe in following the science and will revise my executive orders in line with CDC guidelines lifting additional mitigations for vaccinated people,” Pritzker posted to Facebook Thursday afternoon. “The scientists’ message is clear: if you are vaccinated, you can safely do much more.”

But, there was confusion across the state about what guidelines to follow as some national retailers announced they were following the CDC guidance, while others announced they were still requiring masks among patrons.

At an unrelated event in Chicago Monday, Pritzker said “as fast as we can” he will update his emergency declaration and look at rescinding an emergency rule requiring businesses to enforce face coverings that expires in two weeks.

“There are just a variety of things, it’s been complicated 14, 15, 16 months of putting in place a mask mandate and making sure people are following it and of course unwinding it in an appropriate fashion,” Pritzker said.

Cities like Springfield announced they are relaxing their local rules which required masks indoors with violations costing $50.

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, wants to prohibit mask use from being enforced in school, saying his six-year-old is negatively impacted when he’s not at risk of being hurt by the virus.

“He’s crying as he’s getting out of my vehicle going in because he has to wear a mask and it fogs up his glasses and I’m sick and tired of having that conversation with him trying to tell him that ‘it’s OK’ when it’s not,” Niemerg told WMAY Friday.

The CDC’s guidance still recommends face coverings in places providing health care, public transportation and schools.

Niemerg’s House Bill 4083 prohibiting face-covering requirements in schools is in the House Rules Committee, as is his House Bill 4080 that prohibits mask requirements in the Illinois House.

Asked Monday how people will be able to prove they got the vaccine, Pritzker said the state won’t mandate vaccine proof.

“That’s going to be up to private businesses and to individuals if they want to carry something like that with them, the state will provide the data and information for private solutions for that, if people want to use something like that,” Pritzker said. “There’s no requirement, however.”

State Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, filed a bill last week to prohibit the state from requiring so-called vaccine passports. He’s looking at expanding it to prohibit certain private functions from requiring such proof.

“Where in order for me to go to this concert series that I have to show my medical credentials is absolutely outrageous,” Chesney said.

Chesney’s House Bill 4081 filed Thursday remains in the House Rules Committee.

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