Reddit | bubbanauts

New Illinois Law Makes Assaulting Workers Enforcing Mask Policies A Felony

When you sign up to work in retail, you generally know what you're getting into: working with the public. There will always be some friction in that role but generally speaking, you don't imagine that you're putting your life on the line by stocking shelves at Kroger or folding jeans at Old Navy.

But this is America in 2020, when just showing up for work puts you at risk for contracting COVID-19 and those little frictions have been amped up by mask-wearing policies.

While the vast majority of customers are good about abiding by store policies, retail workers have been thrust into some truly uncomfortable and occasionally tragic situations, targeted by those who resist wearing a mask.

Although most of those situations involve little more than an angry tirade, there seem to be new incidents of violence every day.

Facebook | Corinne J Love

It's mostly been scenes like this one of a woman verbally abusing the staff at a Papa Murphy's over wearing a mask.

However, we've also seen an angry customer assault a McDonald's drive-thru worker in California, a man smash up a liquor store with bricks after being offered a mask, a man pull a knife on a worker at Meijer after being confronted for not wearing a mask, and one situation escalated to the point that a man fired an AK-47 at police. It's getting dangerous out there.

The government of Illinois has noticed the uptick in assaults on workers just trying to do their jobs and has taken action to protect them.

Reddit | hifighost

In a new law signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, assaulting a worker for enforcing a mask policy or social distancing will be considered aggravated battery by prosecutors, which is usually a felony charge, CNN reported. The new law took immediate effect.

"This provision sends the message that it's vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the front lines," read a statement from the governor's office.

"In many ways, these workers are now serving at the forefront of public health mitigation efforts in encouraging social distancing and the use of face coverings," Governor Pritzker added at a news conference, according to NBC5 Chicago.

However, Illinois is also taking aim at businesses that fail to enforce the state's mask mandate.

The new law also changes how authorities can punish businesses that aren't adhering to public health laws with a series of escalating measures from warnings to fines up to $2,500.

Governor Pritzker said that although most businesses are following public health guidelines, "there are some businesses that aren't doing that and they need to be reminded and reminded and then fined if they are not following this rule for the state of Illinois."