New Lenox now requiring people to mask up inside businesses

One suburb is ordering people to mask up to protect local businesses.

If you're outside and not wearing a mask -- say you're walking the dog -- there's no risk of you getting in trouble. The ordinance only applies inside businesses.

“We take the heat off of the employees and business owners. We’re protecting them by asking people to put that mask on,” said New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann.

Baldermann says the Village Board passed the ordinance Monday and are now providing business owners a sign to place on their front doors.

“It’s almost like ‘no shoes, no shirt, no service.’ There's ‘no mask, no service,’” the mayor said.

If you do not leave, Baldermann says, police may be called and you will be warned and could be fined $100, most likely for trespassing.

The mayor says this was a difficult decision, but that numbers at the local hospital, Silver Cross, are rising.

“The situation in the past 4-5 weeks has gone from 14 COVID patients to 113 COVID patients,” Baldermann said.

And similar numbers statewide are prompting one last warning from state leaders about Thursday’s holiday to just stay home.

“Our goal is to protect and not infect those that we love and care for,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

On Wednesday, 11,378 new cases and 155 additional deaths were reported. In addition, the state’s positivity rate declined to 12.2 percent.

Dr. Ezike says if you disregard their advice to not gather on Thursday, that you should get tested for the virus seven days after potential exposure.

“Well obviously if you develop symptoms before [seven days], then test immediately,” she said.

Dr. Ezike says she fears we will see a spike in cases in two weeks, followed by the possibility of a spike in hospitalizations and even deaths.