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COVID-19 Face Covering Order Issued

Post Date:04/20/2020 7:22 PM

Read the message from Mayor Stephen Hagerty below regarding cloth face coverings. 

facemask-instructions-01Evanston Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo has issued an Order requiring all persons working in or patronizing “essential businesses and operations,” as defined in the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order, to wear cloth face coverings. This Order is effective beginning Thursday, April 23 at 8 a.m. Read on below for details.

Does this Order mean I have to wear a face covering when I go to the store or get takeout from a restaurant? Will public-facing employees also be required to wear face coverings?

Yes and yes.

What is a face covering, anyway?

It is any type of cloth that covers your nose and mouth. You can make your own or use a non-medical grade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief.

CDC and IDPH recommend reserving medical grade masks and N-95 respirators, as we need those for our health care workers, medical providers, and emergency responders. (You can donate personal protective equipment here.)

What if I’m in a store and a customer or employee is not wearing a face covering? What should I do?

You have several options. First, as a precaution, maintain a physical distance of at least six feet, as recommended by the CDC. Then, if you feel compelled, you could either (1) inform a store manager or employee, (2) gently and respectfully let the patron know of the Order, or (3) call 311 and make the City aware. The City and the Evanston Chamber of Commerce are also working closely with local businesses to communicate with customers to comply with this order.

What if wearing a face covering poses a health, safety, and/or security issue to me that is greater than the benefits at large to the community?

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children age 2 or under, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the covering without assistance. Please get a note from your medical provider if your medical condition requires you to not wear a face covering.

Do I have to wear a face covering when I’m engaged in a permissible outdoor physical activity, as defined in the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order, such as walking, running, or biking?

As long as you are practicing strict social distancing (6+ feet apart) with people outside your household, you do not need to wear a face covering while engaging in a permissible outdoor physical activity.

Speaking of outdoor activities, why have you not closed down our lakefront, parks, and bike lanes? There are too many people out there, particularly on nice days.

Now we are off topic, but since you asked, as a City we are working hard to strike the right balance between insisting that people stay home and recognizing that all of us need to get outside from time to time for our own physical and mental health. Because our lakefront does not have nearly the number of sports fields and courts found in Chicago, we have opted to educate, monitor, and enforce physical distancing in our parks, rather than shut down the lakefront parks. All in all, we are observing general compliance. Our actions will continue to include a strong public information campaign, heightened patrols by EPD and NU Police, monitoring the relevant COVID-19 local data, and encouraging residents to call 311 if they see blatant violations of people not complying with physical distancing. Lastly, I continue to encourage residents to find a path less traveled when they encounter too many people.

Why is Evanston late to the game in requiring face coverings? I thought we were a leader and a progressive City.

This is a public health emergency and, as such, our Health and Human Services Director’s opinion carries the most weight. Our Health and Human Services Director, City Manager, and I subscribe to the Governor’s fact-based, data-driven decision making model. Given that neither CDC nor the State (nor Chicago for that matter) have mandated face coverings, we have been reluctant to do so, believing that they have far greater resources, expertise, and information to make such a decision. Nonetheless, several of our neighboring communities (Glenview, Skokie, Wilmette, and Highland Park) have recently issued face covering orders, and because we live in the same geographic area and share many of the same essential businesses and amenities, our Health and Human Services Director has concluded that it would be best for Evanston to issue a similar order.

That’s fine, but this feels like one more infringement on my civil liberties.

I do hear you. All I ask is that we remember that our actions to stay home, to only leave for essential activities, and to wear a face covering are important to slow the spread of COVID-19, relieve the pressure on our health care systems, and over time, allow us to restart our economy while we try to bide time for scientists to develop anti-viral medications and a vaccine. We are all sacrificing for the collective good.

What if I choose not to wear a face covering?

You may be fined. Also, a business owner or operator may refuse admission or service to any individual who fails to wear a face covering as required by this Order.

Are you really naive enough to believe that a face covering order will get everyone to wear one?

Having speed limits doesn’t mean some won’t speed. Having laws against discrimination doesn’t mean some won’t discriminate. And adopting a face covering Order doesn’t mean some won’t go without one. What these and other laws and regulations have in common is a desire to lead our community to a place that best protects all of us. Abiding by the face covering order means less spread of a highly contagious virus, more lives saved, a faster return to standard care for our medical services, and a quicker recovery for our economy. 

How do I get a face covering if I am unable to make one?

Materials found at home, such as scarves, bandanas, or handkerchiefs, are acceptable face coverings. Many local small businesses, such as Assembly Creators, are also selling cloth coverings. Please contact the City by calling 311 if you do not have any means of getting a face covering.

How do I care for my cloth face covering?

It’s a good idea to wash your face covering at least daily. Place them in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until they can be laundered with detergent and dried on a hot cycle. If you need to remove and reuse your face covering before washing, consider putting it in a plastic or paper bag (not your backpack or purse) and be mindful not to put it where others can touch it or where it will contaminate other shared surfaces. Wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face. Paper-based masks, like those crafted from shop towels, should be discarded after each use.

How can I show off my unique face covering?

You’re in luck. Share a photo of you in your face covering to Instagram or Facebook with the tag #protectevanston and the Evanston Arts Council will feature it. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll give a shout out to the most creative and artistic face coverings and photos. I've set the bar low, as you can see in the banner of this email, so let's see if you can top me.

Thank you for reading and doing your part to protect our community.

Stay home. Save lives.


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