North Riverside Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. on April 16, exercising powers granted to him by the village board last month, declared an official state of emergency in the village in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and issued a directive requiring customers and employees of businesses to wear face coverings when they are in or near operating businesses.

The state of emergency went into effect immediately, according to the declaration, while the requirement for face coverings will become effective at 12:01 a.m. on April 18.

The move follows in the wake of news that three other suburban towns — Glenview, Cicero and Skokie – had enacted similar orders. Unlike North Riverside, those suburban orders also extend to anyone using public transportation, taxis or rideshares.

“It made a lot of sense to me,” said Hermanek. “We have a large Costco, Jewel, Binny’s and restaurants. It’s not only my obligation to protect residents, but also the people who come to the village and the employees who work here.”

The executive order states that the face coverings do not need to be medical-grade masks, but can be any covering that provides some level of protection, including cloth masks, plastics, scarves, bandannas and handkerchiefs.

The order extends to customers and employees alike, and anyone not wearing a mask in or near a business can be denied service. Failure to comply with the order could also result in the scofflaw being ticketed and fined, although the order does not specify how much.

“I can’t imagine someone not complying with it,” Hermanek said. “This isn’t being done to penalize anyone. It’s for your own benefit and health. I think a friendly reminder should take care of [any scofflaws].”

The law extends to grocery stores, liquor stores, retail stores, hardware and building supplies businesses, banks, gas stations and any restaurant open for takeout and delivery service.

It also extends to parking lots adjacent to the businesses, lines where people are waiting to enter, lobbies and other common areas.

“I don’t see why this can’t be adhered to,” said Hermanek. “If it prevents one person from getting [COVID-19], it’d be worth it.”

The order will remain in effect through at least April 30, but can be extended by Hermanek under the powers granted him by the emergency declaration until the next village board meeting, which is scheduled for May 11.

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