Saturday, August 13

Illinois mask mandate: Gov. JB Pritzker amends state order to make masking voluntary on public transit, in airports


CHICAGO (WLS) — Governor JB Pritzker amended Illinois’ public transit mask mandate to align with the ruling made by a Florida judge striking down the federal mask mandate Monday.

In a statement, Pritzker’s office said the order has been revised “to align with the ending of the enforcement of the federal mask mandate on public transportation.” As a result, the state will no longer require masks to be worn on public transit, in public transit hubs or in airports.

The governor’s officer reiterated that “local municipalities retain the right to establish their own mitigations, including masking requirements on public transportation.”

The Chicago Department of Aviation said in will follow the updated order and no longer require masks at O’Hare and Midway airports, adding, “Those who wish to continue to masking are encouraged to do so. Please be kind and courteous to fellow riders as we continue to welcome folks back to Chicago’s airports.”

While TSA will no longer enforce the CDC’s masking recommendation, Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady advised travelers to continue to wear masks on plans even if they’re not required to.

While Chicago COVID cases are creeping up again, hospitalizations remain low so at this point the city has no plans to reinstate an indoor mask mandate.

CTA confirmed it will no longer require masking as per the governor’s amended order, saying in a statement, “While the city continues to see low levels of transmission of COVID-19, customers and employees who wish to continue wearing masks are encouraged to do so.” We ask all customers to be courteous and respectful to fellow riders.”

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After the governor made his announcement, Metra issued a new statement saying in part, “Starting immediately, masks will be welcome but not required while traveling on Metra trains. They remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19.”

The ever-changing rules had some commuters feeling a bit of whiplash Tuesday morning.

“I do think it’s confusing. It’s probably just one of those things where you keep a mask in your back pocket ’cause you really don’t know — kind of what are the rules, what are the guidelines?” Metra rider Jenna Little asked.

“You are sitting in close proximity and it’s crowded sometimes, yes, everyone needs a mask on public transportation,” said Cassandra Muhammad, CTA rider.

READ MORE: Florida judge voids US COVID-19 mask mandate for plans, public transportation

CTA rider Michael Davenport thinks it’s an inconvenience and is trying to follow the rules.

“I don’t want to wear it. I’m tired of it, so, like I said, I wear and sometimes I just forget about it and don’t wear it,” he said.

But CTA and Metra rider Frankie Vega said he feels like wearing a mask is something “we gotta do.”

“Keep the mask up and make sure everybody stays as healthy as possible so we can enjoy spring and summer,” he said.

Metra rider Pam Hudson agreed.

“If the rules are such as you have to wear it, if it makes people feel comfortable — fine. Even I feel a certain level measure of comfort wearing it,” she said.

Many at Midway airport ditched their face coverings Tuesday morning, and Denise Little hope Metra will also drop its requirement.

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“It’s time to just take the bandage off, and let’s just say it’s time,” she said.

Who is and isn’t requiring masks?

CTA, Metra and The Chicago Department of Aviation all lifted their mask requirements after Gov. Pritzker dropped the statewide mandate Tuesday.

The South Shore Line initially said it would also require masks, but changed course and released a statement later Monday night saying it would not be requiring passengers to wear masks when riding its trains.

Amtrak is also lifting its mask requirement, as are Uber and Lyft.

Riders are no longer required to sit in the back seat in Ubers. However, to give drivers space, the company said riders should only use the front seat if it’s required because of the size of their group.

Pace said after the governor’s change, masks are no longer required on buses effective immediately.

Many airlines, including United, American and Delta, are already lifting the mandate for passengers and employees in airports and on all domestic flights. They will also not require masks on international routes unless the arrival country requires them.

WATCH: Local doctor weighs in on mask mandate changes

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