Stewart: Mask mandate decisions sending mixed messages

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) issued a statement reacting to a plan announced Feb. 9 by Gov. JB Pritzker updating mask mandates in Illinois.

Pritzker said his Administration’s statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted Feb. 28, but the state intends to continue masking requirements in P-12 schools subject to pending litigation which impacts a number of schools.

“A quick summary of recent events: on Feb. 4, a Circuit Court judge from Sangamon County issued a ruling that essentially nullified Gov. Pritzker’s mask, vaccine, and testing mandates for schools. The Pritzker Administration is appealing that decision, but for now, decisions regarding COVID-19 mitigations for schools are where they belong – at the local level.

The Governor’s initial Executive Order mandating masks in schools is one of nearly 100 Executive Orders he has handed down since the start of the pandemic. In each instance, an Executive Order was issued without engaging with lawmakers, local government officials, local school officials or the students’ parents.

Given his go-it-alone mentality from the start of the pandemic, it is ironic that the Governor today said local units of government and businesses will have the authority to put restrictions and mitigations in place that are stricter than what will be in place statewide after Feb. 28. Why is he suddenly so supportive of local governments and businesses making decisions, when we have continuously asked his Administration since March 2020 for more local and regional input into his one-sized-fits-all Executive Orders? Our requests have continued to be ignored.”

Stewart said he has never been in favor of statewide mandates and has always advocated for local control. Illinois is about to enter a third year of Gov. Pritzker ruling unilaterally through Executive Orders and statewide mandates.

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