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Attacking a worker who's enforcing mask rules is now aggravated battery in Illinois

The Illinois governor explained these workers are serving at the forefront of public health mitigation efforts in encouraging social distancing and face masks.

Anyone who assaults a worker who is enforcing a mask order or social distancing guidelines can now be charged with aggravated battery in Illinois. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the measure into law on Friday and it went into effect immediately. 

"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

Pritzker said at a news conference Friday that the new measure "offers protections from assault for retail workers, many of whom are tasked with asking the public to follow certain COVID mitigation measures indoors," according to NBC Chicago. "In many ways, these workers are now serving at the forefront of public health mitigation efforts in encouraging social distancing and the use of face coverings." 

The Illinois law also provides 60 days of additional disability leave to some state and local government employees such as correctional officers and firefighters for those whose recovery was slowed by COVID-19. 

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More than 30 states have issued face mask mandates to try and slow the spread of coronavirus cases around the country. On Sunday, the U.S. surpassed 5 million confirmed cases, according to John's Hopkins University.

On Friday, Pritzker also announced that public health officials may issue fines to Illinois businesses where employees or patrons aren't wearing face coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.