Attacking retail, restaurant workers enforcing mask rules now a felony in Illinois
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Assaulting a retail or restaurant worker who is enforcing mask requirements in Illinois has become a more serious offense.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker approved the bill on Friday, which declares the “battery of a merchant is aggravated battery,” according to the Illinois General Assembly website.
Aggravated battery is considered a felony in Illinois, according to FindLaw.com.
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The law is intended to specifically protect workers at restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers who are “conveying public health guidance, such as requiring patrons to wear face-coverings or promoting social distancing,” a release about the new law said.
The law is intended to specifically protect workers at restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
“As our state faces the challenges created by the ongoing global pandemic, we are doing all we can to support and protect our front line and essential workers,” State Representative Jay Hoffman said in a statement.
“This legislation allows front line workers that have been impacted by COVID-19 to focus on recovering while sending a clear message to all our essential workers that we are behind them and will do all we can to protect their safety and well-being,” Hoffman added.
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According to USA Today, an aggravated battery charge can incur a maximum sentence of five years in prison and fines up to $2,500. The maximum sentence can increase to 10 years “depending on factors such as the individual’s criminal history,” the website said.
A regular battery charge is only a misdemeanor, according to the website, and has a maximum sentence of one year in prison and maximum fines of $2,500.
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“As I’ve visited with and listened to mayors and health departments all across our state, it’s clear there is still an even greater need to get people to wear masks – especially to protect frontline workers, whether they’re at the front of a store asking you to put on your mask or whether they’re responding to 911 calls to save those in distress,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement.
“These rules, which provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued, are a commonsense way to enforce public health guidelines. Illinois has made substantial progress in our fight against COVID-19 because the vast majority of communities and business owners have done the right thing,” he added. “These rules will help ensure that the minority of people who refuse to act responsibly won’t take our state backward.”
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The new Illinois law also increased paid disability leave by 60 days for law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics who were injured after March 9 and “whose recovery was hindered by COVID-19,” the announcement said.
That provision is also available to employees of the state Department of Corrections, employees of the Prisoner Review Board and certain employees at the Department of Human Services who work with a penal institution or mental health or developmental disabilities facility, according to the announcement.
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