Cook County warns of fines if people refuse to wear masks inside businesses and public places
Four days after Elk Grove Village mayor Craig Johnson refused to implement the governor’s mandate on masking, the Cook County health department on Saturday warned companies of fines for failing to oblige people wear masks indoors in suburban Cook County businesses, municipal buildings and other public places.
State and county warrants require that anyone 2 years of age and older who can medically tolerate wearing a mask should do so in indoor public spaces, including restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters, fitness clubs , government buildings, multi-unit residential buildings and on public transportation.
Last Tuesday, Johnson announced a policy of “optional masks” for municipal buildings and businesses in the city. His open challenge to the governor’s order caught the attention of conservative news and opinion website Breitbart.
But that was not the reason for the health department‘s latest recall, spokesman Thomas McFeeley said on Saturday.
“We are not responding to any particular municipality or action,” McFeeley said, adding that the health department did because as the weather gets colder people will be spending more time indoors.
Businesses that violate the governor’s order can be fined and inspected.
McFeeley said the Department of Health is investigating complaints of non-compliance. The first violations get a pass. If the violation occurs twice or more, the department imposes a fine and the matter goes to arbitration.
“If a fine is contested, there is an arbitration hearing,” he said. “The Deputy State Attorney represents the Cook County Department of Public Health and the judge rules on penalties, including fines.”
He added that the health department has authority over all businesses whether or not they involve catering.