Story at a glance

  • “This provision sends the message that it’s vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the front lines,” the governor’s office said in a statement Friday.
  • In Illinois, aggravated battery is usually a felony offense.
  • As the coronavirus pandemic has prompted retailers and other businesses to require patrons to wear masks and abide by social distancing rules to help stop the spread of the virus, there have been several disputes over mask use across the country that have turned violent.

A new law in Illinois now makes it possible for anyone who assaults a worker enforcing a mask requirement or other public health guidance to be charged with aggravated battery. 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed Senate Bill 471 into law on Friday, which expands the definition of aggravated battery to include attacking essential workers who are conveying public health guidance, such as requiring patrons to wear masks or face coverings or to adhere to social distancing measures. 


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“This provision sends the message that it’s vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the front lines,” the governor’s office said in a statement Friday. 

Aggravated battery is typically a felony offense. 

As the coronavirus pandemic has prompted retailers and other businesses to require patrons to wear masks and abide by social distancing rules to help stop the spread of the virus, there have been several disputes over mask use that have turned violent. 

Two brothers in the Los Angeles area were hit with criminal charges after breaking the arm of a Target employee following a confrontation after they refused to wear masks. Another woman was recently treated for a broken leg after she was assaulted while confronting a customer inside a New Jersey Staples store for not wearing a face mask over her nose and mouth. An Oakland McDonald’s worker in June claimed she was assaulted at the drive-thru after she refused a customer service for not wearing a mask. 

The governor also debuted proposed emergency rules that include punishments for businesses that fail to enforce mask and social distancing requirements. Under the state’s rules, businesses that repeatedly defy mask mandates could be hit with a fine anywhere between $75 and $2,500. 

Published on Aug 10, 2020