Experts: Face mask policies in stores and venues will rely on honesty of visitors



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(WEEK) — After a year of face coverings, new rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have some people hesitant to uncover.

Local health leaders say the success of these relaxed rules is dependent on an honor system.

Experts say vaccine rollout is going smoothly and weekly COVID-19 case rates are steadily dropping.

They are optimistic – but still cautious – as businesses follow the CDC’s lead and begin to dial back their mask requirements.

“I think it is an appropriate time to start to loosen restrictions,” OSF Healthcare’s Dr. Stephen Hippler said. “However, we all have to be careful … the pandemic is not over.”

Many venues and storefronts in central Illinois will allow vaccinated visitors to ditch the mask, but there isn’t a plan in place to monitor who is vaccinated and who is not.

“People are going to have to take individual responsibility for their own actions,” Hippler said. “Not only to protect themselves, but to protect society and those around them.”

Some locals say they are concerned about dishonesty – and they’re worried they won’t be able to know how to tell if others around them are following safety guidelines.

“I am personally not comfortable letting go of my mask,” Peoria resident Mentha Wandy said. “Everything associated with the pandemic has been uncertain.”

“I think we need to be mindful of what happened last summer,” Peoria resident Marc Supreme said. “Around this time, we thought we were home free … and actually, all that activity that we did in the summer months was a bit wild given the circumstances.”

With vaccine supply high enough to reach any level of demand, experts continue to urge anyone and everyone ages 12 and up to get the shot.

“We have a preponderance of evidence now that shows the vaccine is safe and effective … the benefits far outweigh the risks at this point,” Hippler said.

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