For a time, a mask mandate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was set to expire on May 3, had required all states and the Transportation Security Administration to mandate mask wearing on all public transportation, at centers of public transport and when traveling by air.
But when a Florida judge earlier this month overturned that federal travel mask warrant, saying in a ruling that the CDC failed to justify its decision and follow rule-making procedures. appropriate, confusion has occurred across the country.
Soon after, a patchwork of COVID mask restrictions across Illinois began to emerge, with some transits saying they would still enforce mask-wearing, while others would not.
And, it remained unclear whether or not masks would be required at O’Hare and Midway International Airports.
That’s in part because Illinois is currently under an executive order from Governor JB Pritzker that requires face coverings to be worn in certain indoor settings.
However, the order has been changed several times, including after the judge’s recent decision.
Here’s what the ordinance currently says and where in Illinois you must always wear a mask indoors.
Do I have to wear a mask in Illinois on public transportation?
Face masks are no longer required on public transportation in Illinois.
This includes public transit like the Amtrak, Metra, and CTA, as well as transit hubs like Chicago Union Station and rideshares like Lyft and Uber.
While the masks have been previously required in Illinois for public transportation and transit hubs, this language was recently removed from the state executive order to align with new federal guidelines.
Note that even if public transport no longer requires the wearing of a mask, some agencies may still recommend it. For example, Metra states, “Masks are welcome but not required when traveling on Metra trains. They remain an important preventative measure against COVID-19.”
Do I have to wear a mask in Illinois at the airport?
Likewise, face masks are no longer required at Illinois airports.
The Chicago Aviation Department said it defers to the TSA when enforcing guidelines at O’Hare and Midway International Airports.
And, since the CDC’s mask mandate was overturned by a federal judge, the TSA has said it won’t mandate the wearing of masks at airports.
While the masks have been previously required in Illinois at public transportation hubs like airports, this language was recently removed from the state executive order to align with new federal guidelines.
Do I have to wear a mask on all airlines?
Most major US and some international airliners have dropped their mask requirement to also align with new federal guidelines.
Here’s a breakdown of more than a dozen airlines and what their mask requirements are.
Should I wear a mask at K-12 schools or daycare centers in Illinois?
Indoor masks were previously required by state executive order in schools, daycares and a number of other indoor public places.
However, on February 28, 2022, Governor Pritzker lifted this requirement from the Order.
It was unrelated to the CDC’s travel mask mandate and happened before a judge overturned it.
Are masks required everywhere in Illinois?
According to Governor Pritzker’s executive order, there are only two places the state requires you to wear a mask indoors:
- Inside health care facilities, such as doctor’s offices, nursing homes, and hospitals
- Inside congregate settings, such as correctional facilities, jails, jails, and homeless shelters
While these are the only two settings where the state requires the wearing of masks indoors, “school districts and private businesses may continue to require the wearing of masks at their discretion.”
What is the mask guideline in Illinois counties with high community transmission?
According to the CDC, wearing a mask to protect against COVID may be recommended depending on the level of community transmission where you live.
If you are in an area with “low” community transmission of COVID, wearing a mask is only recommended if you have tested positive or are showing symptoms.
In areas with “medium” community spread of COVID, the CDC urges you to “consider wearing a face mask in indoor public places where vaccination status is not known,” in addition to knowing if you have been tested positive, have symptoms, or are at high risk of serious illness.
In areas with “high” community transmission of COVID, the recommendation is to wear a mask indoors in public, additionally if you have tested positive, have symptoms, or are at high risk of serious illness.
Which counties in Illinois have medium or high COVID transmission?
As of April 29, five Illinois counties are listed under the CDC’s “medium” transmission risk level, the second-highest level on the CDC’s scale:
You can track community spread in your neighborhood using the CDC’s Community Spread Tool here.