Guests and employees of restaurants in Illinois will be required to wear facemasks again starting Aug. 20, regardless of their vaccination status.
The safety protocols re-imposed Thursday by Gov. Jay Pritzker apply only to restaurant customers dining indoors. Although a face covering is not required for outdoor service, residents were strongly encouraged by the governor to wear a mask whenever they’re part of a crowd, indoors or out.
Pritzker also imposed a vaccine mandate on various groups of frontline employees but did not extend it to restaurant workers.
The Democrat said the safety measures need to be imposed because the delta variant of coronavirus is spreading rapidly within the state, particularly in rural areas.
"The quick spread of this disease in Illinois and across the country is holding us all back from the post-pandemic life we so desperately want to embrace, and it's harming the most vulnerable among us," Pritzker said in a statement. "We are running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds.”
The state joins a fast-growing list of jurisdictions that have re-imposed safety measures dropped earlier in the year because of a decline in COVID infection rates. All states on the list have opted for masks, not vaccination mandates. But New York Gov. Kathy Hochul left open the possibility of declaring one for her charge.
"With the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, New Yorkers can expect more vaccine requirements," Hochul said. "More on that soon."