Skip to contents

Coronavirus In Chicago: Masks Required When New Stay At Home Order Starts Friday

People 2 or older will be required to wear a face covering when they're not able to social distance in public. Here's what else is new.

Edric Delleola and Linsey Hardwick walk through Lincoln Square while wearing masks on April 27, 2020. Starting May 1, All Illinois residents are required to wear face masks in public unless they are able to social distance.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
  • Credibility:

CHICAGO — Chicagoans will face significant changes Friday when a new stay at home order kicks in.

The biggest change for most people: People 2 or older will be required to wear a face covering when they’re not able to social distance, like inside a store or on a crowded sidewalk.

But there’s other changes, too, like the reopening of some state parks and golf courses.

The new order runs through May 30, though Gov. JB Pritzker might extend it as he has in the past.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a press conference at 1 p.m. and Pritzker has his daily coronavirus briefing at 2:30 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know about stay at home:

Face Coverings

Everyone who is medically able and older than 2 will be required to wear a face covering in public when they’re not able to practice social distancing.

But Chicagoans don’t need to rush out to buy masks — reusable face coverings can be made out of things people might have at home, like old T-shirts and jeans. The Centers for Disease Control has an online guide for how to make and wear cloth masks.

Pritzker said he doesn’t want police to arrest people who aren’t wearing masks, and Lightfoot has echoed those sentiments, noting she doesn’t want to punish people who might not have the money or resources to buy or make a mask.

But the governor said stores can and should refuse service to people who aren’t wearing face coverings, and essential businesses will be required to give their employees coverings if they’re not able to stay 6 feet away from people in the workplace.

RELATED: You Must Cover Your Face In Illinois Starting May 1. Here’s What You Need To Know

Outdoor Recreation

State parks will begin a “phased re-opening,” and people will be allowed to fish and boat in state parks so long as no more than two people are in a boat. Here’s a list of parks that will open.

Lightfoot said she does not anticipate opening up the lakefront to boating.

Essential Businesses

Pritzker said greenhouses, garden centers and plant nurseries were always supposed to be considered essential businesses, but the new order emphasized they can open. The governor has also clarified dental offices are allowed to be open, though many have voluntarily closed or stopped procedures for the time being.

Pritzker also said animal grooming services can reopen.

Essential businesses must provide employees with face coverings if they can’t stay 6 feet away from others, and they must “follow new requirements that maximize social distancing.” The state said there would be new occupancy limits for essential businesses, though it hasn’t laid those out yet.

Non-essential Retail

Retail stores that have been designated as “non-essential” can partially reopen. Employees will be able to fulfill phone and online orders, and customers can get those orders through outside pickup or delivery.


Pritzker has already ordered schools to remain closed through the academic year (though he hasn’t said decided what will happen with summer school and summer programs).

According to the new order, schools can create procedures so students or staff can pick up supplies and belongings. Universities can allow students to move out so long as they practice social distancing.

Surgery Centers

Surgical centers and hospitals will be allowed to perform elective surgeries, though they’ll have to ensure they have proper personal protective equipment, have space for coronavirus patients and test patients to ensure they don’t have COVID-19.

Coronavirus Cases

• There have been 45,883 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Monday afternoon. Some of those patients have recovered since testing positive.

• At least 1,983 people have died in Illinois as a result of the virus.

• There have been 18,679 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago and at least 773 people have died.

If You Need Help

• Sick? Broke? Want To Help? Here’s A Massive List Of Coronavirus Resources In Chicago

What’s Happening In Chicago

• Stay at Home: Pritzker extended the stay at home order to May 30, but there have been changes. Here’s how it’s different.

downstate lawmaker challenged the new stay at home order with a suit — and that could have broader implications for the rest of the state.

• App: The city has a new app called Chi COVID Coach that will let you sign up for a vaccine, testing information and more.

• El Milagro: The tortilla factory has closed for two weeks after a worker died of coronavirus.

• Saint Anthony Hospital: The West Side hospital is so full, coronavirus patients are being intubated outside the ICU — but it’s losing nurses to McCormick Place, its leaders said.

• Pilsen, Chinatown Residents: A new fund is giving $1,000 grants to people who are struggling during the pandemic.

 Masks: Everyone will be required to wear a face covering or mask when unable to social distance starting May 1. And yes, stores can require you to wear a face covering if you want to shop.

Here’s what you need to know about the requirement.

• Non-essential Stores: Starting May 1, non-essential retail stores can reopen — but only to fulfill contactless pickup and delivery orders.

• Emergency Powers: City Council voted Friday to give Lightfoot emergency powers to fight coronavirus. Critics said it was a “power grab,” but the mayor said she needs the powers — which end this summer — to save lives here.

• Gig Workers: Here’s how to apply for unemployment as a gig or 1099 worker in Illinois.

• Recovery: The city has created a task force that will start exploring how Chicago can recovery financially and emotionally from the pandemic.

• SchoolsSchools will remain closed during this academic year.

On Sunday, Pritzker told teachers they should use the summer to prepare for e-learning this fall, “just in case.”

• Ramadan: Chicago Muslims are celebrating a Ramadan unlike any other.

• Trump: The president has come under fire after wondering aloud if disinfectants could be injected to cure coronavirus. Local health officials have urged people not to try that, noting it can be fatal — and Ezike said Illinois Poison Control has seen more callers since Trump’s comments.

• Goodbyes: A Chicago doctor is collecting iPads and other tablets so her coronavirus patients can save goodbye to their loved ones.

• Testing: Officials are now saying anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get tested in Illinois. Before, they’d advised most people to simply stay at home and assume they had coronavirus.

Here’s where you can get tested in Chicago

• Large Events: Some event producers are already canceling major summer festivals — including the Silver Room Block Party and West Fest — after Pritzker said he thinks all large summer events should be nixed.

A summer without festivals would be “devastating,” but it could save lives, producers said.

• Call4Calm: People in need of mental or physical health care during the pandemic now have more free services from the state.


Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills and shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste and/or smell

People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion and runny nose, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze or cough with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where COVID-19 is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.