Pritzker to Lift Indoor Mask Requirement February 28; Masks Still Required at Schools

Pritzker Announces Plan to Lift Indoor Mask Requirement February 28
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Lifting Indoor Mask Requirement

At a press conference, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced he plans to lift the indoor mask requirement at some locations by February 28. The governor said he has made this decision due to a downward trend of cases and COVID-19 hospitalization rates declining.

“If these trends continue, and we expect them to, then on Monday, February 28, we will lift the indoor mask requirement for the state of Illinois,” said Pritzker at the press conference. “I want to be clear: many local jurisdictions, businesses, and organizations have their own mask requirements and other mitigations that must be respected. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve deployed the tools available to us as needed. Our approach has saved lives and kept our economy open and growing.”

These changes will apply to indoor facilities including malls, restaurants, bars, venues, places of worship, and businesses who choose to remove mask restrictions.

“While masks will no longer be required in most indoor locations beginning February 28, they are still recommended,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike at the press conference. “Masks offer a layer of protection and for people who have an underlying health condition or who are around those who do, you may choose to continue wearing a mask. Similarly, if you find yourself in a crowded, indoor setting, a mask can still help protect you.”

Masks Still Required at Schools

For the time being, masks will still be required at schools. The governor said given that “schools need a little more time” for community infection rates to drop, for young children to become vaccine eligible, and for more parents to have their kids vaccinated, masks will continue to be required in Pre K-12 school settings. Pritzker said the continuation of masks in schools will help prevent adaptive pauses and avoid going back to remote learning.

“In-person learning in a healthy environment is what’s best for our children. School outbreaks impact hundreds, thousands of people across a community,” said Prtizker. “And there are a whole lot more infections when districts are maskless. Schools are unlike most other environments.”

The governor’s office is currently working to appeal a Sangamon County judge’s ruling that disputes the legality of masks. The judge issued a temporary restraining order against Pritzker’s mask mandate in schools. He declared that policy, as well as other emergency rules like mandated vaccinations for school employees, effectively “null and void,” in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of parents from 146 school districts.

Districts 203 and 204 were both named as defendants in the case. On February 6, Naperville School District 203 and Indian Prairie School District 204 announced they will continue their mask mandate and other current COVID-19 mitigations. This ruling caused many parents to come out to Monday’s District 203 and District 204 school board meetings.

“It was an extremely bad decision by this judge. It’s poorly written, it’s poorly decided. So we’ve got to appeal that decision because it takes away one of the tools we have going forward,” said Pritzker. “We may see surges in the future. We want to be able to keep everybody safe in the future.”

Places That Still Require Masks

The governor said some other facilities in the state will continue to require masks. Those include daycare, healthcare settings, long-term care facilities, and congregate settings like prisons and shelters. Masks are also federally required in public transit settings.

Local COVID Numbers

Overall, local COVID-19 numbers have been declining. As of February 9, Region 7 which includes Will County is at an 8.4% seven-day rolling positivity rate and Region 8, which includes DuPage County, is at 9.4%. According to the Naperville COVID-19 dashboard, there are currently 1,272 active cases as of February 8.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.