* From a reader on the new mask and gathering size rule…
Are folks who oppose the DPH rule actually serious in saying enforcement should be on individuals, not businesses? I get why businesses would argue that- to avoid legal responsibility. But they actually want enforcement at the individual level? They want businesses and customers to call police on the people in their communities, overload their local police and be responsible for having their customers hit with a misdemeanor? Or is it just something to argue?
It’s a good question.
* Capitol News Illinois…
On Tuesday, several members of the panel, particularly Republicans, said they continued to hear concerns from local businesses in their districts about why they were being held liable for enforcing the public health rules, but their customers who refuse to wear masks or keep a 6-foot distance from others were not.
Among those was Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, who said callers to his office were concerned about actions of individuals leading to fines and potential misdemeanor charges for businesses.
But Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, a cochair of JCAR, said the graduated nature of the enforcement rules means businesses that genuinely are trying to comply should have nothing to fear.
“And I think it’s really important to understand what that points to is this rule is going to be enforced against rogue operators,” Cunningham said. “This is not something that is going to be easily applied even by the most zealous law enforcement agency or public health department against someone — a business that slips up once or twice. There’s just not an ability to do that based on the framework of this rule.”
I think Cunningham is right. The businesses will get a reminder and a warning. If and only if a business is ignoring those public health warnings, then the matter goes to the state’s attorney, who will have the authority to decide whether to proceed.
* Joliet Herald-News…
“As small business owners and residents across the state spoke out against this blatant attempt to shut down the Illinois economy again, Democrat state lawmakers are silent,” the party said in a news release.
The Will County GOP urged its supporters to call members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to “hold the Governor accountable.” Republicans asked citizens to “rise up again to combat yet another wrong done by this Governor,” according to the release.
The party also provided potential callers with talking points to argue it was “wrong to fine a business for a customer’s actions,” and that the rule would “hurt Illinois businesses and Illinois’ fragile economy.”
Again, a business would get a warning and then a threat of action before the state’s attorney would have to press charges…
The graduated enforcement of the emergency rules begins with education of the business and hopeful voluntary compliance. A written warning will follow additional violations and some or all patrons may be asked to leave the premises. The third and final consequence could include a Class A misdemeanor [with] a fine ranging from $75 to $2,500.
County health departments and local law enforcement agencies will issue the warnings and fines, while only a State’s Attorney is able to issue a misdemeanor.
The rules apply to businesses, schools, and childcare facilities, but not to individuals.
[Pritzker’s general counsel Ann Spillane] said the administration heard from law enforcement agencies that said a rule like this would be a help when officers are asked to break up large gatherings or address mask wearing.
The new version of the rule also makes it clear that different establishments face different circumstances, she said. A tiny story with one clerk on duty can’t do the same kind of enforcement as a larger store. Also, the earlier version made it appear that full compliance was required.
“Businesses are not expected to achieve 100% compliance,” she said.
* IRMA is right to be reticent to confront customers…
Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Rob Karr, whose group was among the first months ago to put out public service announcements about the importance of masks, said the rule requires businesses employees to stick their neck out for the mandate.
“This rule requires us now to have that interaction,” Karr said. “It is clearly putting employees and retailers at risk and the [Pritzker] administration now owns that responsibility.”
But somebody’s gotta do it. And, as noted at the top, somebody would still have to call the cops on recalcitrant customers.
State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, said the governor circumvented the legislature by filing the rule and creating a tiered approach that could lead to criminal charges.
“This is not going to make more people wear masks,” Schimpf said. “In fact, I think this is going to cause people to dig in their heels a little bit more.”
Schimpf said the governor should get the consent of the people and call a special session to deal with pandemic-related issues instead of issuing unilateral mandates.
State law, approved by the General Assembly, requires IDPH to promulgate rules in the event of unusual things like novel virus pandemics. It’s set up that way because the legislature is not exactly a quick responder.