Beginning Wednesday, all bar and restaurant customers must wear masks when dealing with an establishment’s staff, Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday.


Pritzker made the announcement as a second region of the state saw new restrictions imposed because of rising COVID-19 caseloads.


Pritzker said the requirement for face masks in bars and restaurants was made in conjunction with the Illinois Restaurant Association "and other hospitality industry partners who want to keep their employees and their customers safe."


Under the new rule, customers must wear face coverings over their noses and mouths when interacting with wait staff and other employees of a bar or restaurant.


"Customers must follow this rule when food and beverages are brought to the table, when orders are placed and when picking up carry-out orders," Pritzker said.


The state has had a mandate to wear masks in public since May 1 and Pritzker said people in most establishments are adhering to it.


"But it is important that we treat hospitality employees just as you would in any retail store or establishment," Pritzker said. "This new requirement asks a little bit more of residents dining out in order to protect their health and safety and that of our frontline hospitality workers. Restaurateurs and bar owners want to remain open for business and this new requirement will help keep people safe."


Restaurant and bar owners can obtain signage to help enforce the new rule at dceocovid9resources.com.


Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said skeptics should drop their opposition to wearing masks.


"To the people who say face coverings don’t work, you are simply wrong," Ezike said. "It doesn’t matter what video you saw on the internet or the fake headline you read, please know that face coverings do save lives, but they must be used in conjunction with social distancing and hand washing."


The Illinois Department of Public Health said there were 1,680 new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday, along with 29 additional deaths. That brings the total to 223,470 cases with 7,917 deaths. The positivity rate for the state as a whole is 4.1%, slightly lower than it had been.


There are 1,549 people hospitalized, with 345 of them in intensive care and 135 on ventilators.


Pritzker appeared in Will County Tuesday where, along with Kankakee County, he imposed new restrictions because the number of COVID-19 cases has been surging. He was criticized by Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and Rep. John Curran, R-Downers Grove, because the restrictions he imposed in those counties are more severe than the ones he imposed in the Metro East area which is also experiencing a spike in cases. They said it is because Democratic leaders from the Metro East area pressure Pritzker into being more lenient in the area.


Pritzker said Metro East officials did convince him that lighter restrictions – developed in conjunction with neighboring Missouri – would be enough to control the virus.


"That has not worked," he conceded. "It was a mistake in my view to make the adjustments we made in (the Metro East area)."


Pritzker said that when the restrictions were imposed, the area was given two weeks to turn things around. Although things have actually gotten worse, he said he is still giving the area two weeks before tighter restrictions are imposed.


Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr