CHICAGO, Ill. – A new law in Illinois allows prosecutors to charge you with aggravated battery if you assault a retail worker who’s enforcing mask requirements.
The enhancement is part of a bill that Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law to expand workplace protections and support essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill 471 adds a penalty for assaulting or battering a retail worker who is conveying public health guidance, such as requiring patrons to wear face-coverings or promoting social distancing.
The bill amends Illinois’ criminal code and provides that battery of a merchant is aggravated battery, which is normally a felony in the state.
“This provision sends the message that it’s vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the frontlines,” the governor’s office wrote in a press release.
The legislation comes after several reports of people attacking workers who ask them to wear masks, like a recent instance at a New Jersey Staples store.
The law also increases paid disability leave for any injury that occurs after March 9, 2020 by 60 days for firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics whose recovery was hindered by COVID-19.