Mundelein to impose mask policy; Gurnee, Buffalo Grove considering similar plans

Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz issued an executive order Tuesday requiring people in the village to wear face coverings in public starting Thursday, and officials in Gurnee and Buffalo Grove are considering the change as well.

People do not need to cover their faces in their cars and homes or when outdoors, Mundelein officials said in a statement announcing the order on Tuesday, and cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under the age of 5.

Lentz said Tuesday he began discussing the policy with trustees and staff members last week and he has the support of the village board.

Similar rules have been adopted in Glenview, Cicero, Skokie and Highland Park in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Other towns have begun implementing it and the governor is seriously considering it, as I understand, and so it seems like the right thing to do so everyone is on the same page," Lentz said.

Lentz said that when the order goes into effect, business operators may refuse admission or service to individuals not covering their faces. He said he didn't think village police officers would necessarily be out writing tickets to people not wearing masks.

"I suspect everyone's going to be a good neighbor and comply," Lentz said. "I wouldn't want to speculate on enforcement at this point. It is an ordinance enforceable by law. I think the community needs a nudge to make sure everyone is on the same page."

Lentz, who had and recovered from COVID-19, said a robocall will go out to residents informing them of the new order.

Gurnee village leaders are considering implementing a face-covering policy as well. At a board meeting Monday night, Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik asked village trustees to share their thoughts with her. Kovarik said Tuesday she has heard mixed reactions from trustees so far.

"While waiting for feedback from the trustees, staff is doing research and we are networking with our peers in the few communities who have done this to see how it's working in the early stage," Kovarik said Tuesday.

Buffalo Grove officials are working on an ordinance that would require face coverings in essential businesses. The idea was brought up at Monday's village board meeting by Trustee Andrew Stein and received support from several trustees as well as Village President Beverly Sussman.

Last month Lentz was the first Northwest suburban mayor to reveal he'd been diagnosed with COVID-19. His wife, Michelle, also tested positive, but both have since recovered. He said Tuesday his experience with COVID-19 likely informed his interest in implementing the mask plan.

"Wearing a mask protects others from you if you have the virus," Lentz said. "I know it's possible to have the virus and have no idea and no clue you are contagious."

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