Illinois Has Made It A Felony To Assault Retail Workers Enforcing Their Store’s Mask Policy

Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker signed a new law last week which makes it a felony for anyone to assault a retail worker “who is conveying public health guidance, such as requiring patrons to wear face-coverings or promoting social distancing.”
The law, according to USA Today, classifies such an assault as aggravated battery, which is a felony in the state. The charge can result in up to five years in prison.
“As we continue to adapt to the changes forced on us by the current pandemic, we have to also create a response that addresses the long-time issues it has exacerbated,” said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford in a release about the new law: “Our essential workers put their lives at risk for us to stay safe, and it is clear that we have to continue to do better to protect working class people with a renewed commitment to providing basic rights for everyone.”
This new law comes following a wave of viral videos showing mask-less customers berating retail workers after being asked to put on a mask, and in some cases, those customers have destroyed merchandise or become violent. These incidents have posed questions about whose responsibility it is to uphold mask guidelines set in place by restaurants, stores, and/or local mandates.
In the same release about the law, Illinois also issued emergency rules for businesses and schools which allow for “multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued” regarding masks and social distancing. They also increased paid disability leave for frontline workers like firefighters, law enforcement officials, and paramedics “whose recovery was hindered by COVID-19.” You can learn more about eligibility in the release linked above.

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