Although both Forest Park and River Forest have already been requiring masks in some public spaces, wearing face-coverings became mandatory across the state on May 1, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order took effect.
Enforcement of the masking requirement, according to police chiefs of both towns, has been met with few problems.
Forest Park’s Police Chief Tom Aftanas said that his department is treating it similarly to social distancing requirements.
“We will remind people of the governor’s order,” said Aftanas in an email. “The police department will start with verbal reminders and will issue local ordinance citations if needed. An arrest for violating the order will only be done as a last resort.”
He said no businesses had called the department needing help enforcing the regulation, but that police would intervene if need be.
“It is up to the management of the business to deny entry [to someone without a mask],” said Aftanas. “If management denies entry to a person and that individual ignores the order and enters a business, a person can be arrested for criminal trespass to property.”
Anyone wishing to report a violation should call 9-1-1, said Aftanas, but he added that “it seems that most customers are taking this seriously and wearing masks.”
In River Forest, Police Chief James O’Shea said they’ve received three or four calls from people concerned about lines outside stores not being managed properly.
“In those cases,” said O’Shea, “officers assisted in asking people to keep six feet distance” and reminded them to wear masks.
In addition, O’Shea reported that the police department received one call from a business needing assistance with an individual refusing to leave the store after entering without a mask.
“Officers calmed the situation and provided a mask to the customer,” said O’Shea.
And despite officers assisting in managing mask-related situations, no social distancing or mask requirement citations have been issued, said O’Shea, and no related arrests have been made.
“Residents and those who come to River Forest to shop, run, bike, walk or use other services have been very kind, supportive and understanding of the governor’s and village president’s executive orders,” O’Shea said.
As for businesses, Walmart reported in an April 17 memo that all employees would be required to wear masks at all locations beginning on Monday, April 20. This includes the Forest Park location.
Rebecca Thomason, senior manager of corporate communications of Walmart, said the company is taking safety seriously.
“Maintaining customer and associate safety remains our top priority,” said Thomason in an email. “We encourage customers to be especially mindful of one another during this unprecedented time and adhere to recommendations that we all use face coverings while in public spaces.”
Walgreens, as well, is making sure both employees and customers are protected.
“We are working with a number of vendors to provide face covers for our store team members, which they are required to wear while working in accordance with CDC guidance,” said Molly Sheehan, senior manager of corporate media relations for Walgreens.
“Customers are asked to wear face covers before entering the store in accordance with CDC guidance and local health laws, except where doing so would inhibit the individual’s health or where the individual is under two years of age,” said Sheehan. “We instituted new front door signage instructing customers of the face cover requirement.”
Last week, Walgreens in River Forest, 7251 Lake St., closed temporarily on April 30 for a deep cleaning due to an employee of the store possibly being infected with COVID-19. The store has since reopened.
According to Sheehan Walgreens was notified that a team member of the store was being evaluated for COVID-19. As a result, the store was temporarily closed by Walgreens to clean and disinfect the premises.
“When notified of a confirmed or presumed positive COVID-19 case, we take actions meeting or exceeding recommendations from the CDC, OSHA, public health officials and other credible sources while following federal, state and local health advisories,” said Sheehan in an email. “Our clinical and safety teams work closely with our field and store leadership to respond accordingly, which may include identifying and contacting individuals who may be at risk in order to self-quarantine or self-monitor their health, as well as cleaning and disinfecting the location or impacted areas of the store. Cleanings may require temporarily closing a store.”
The store reopened in the evening of April 30.