Illinois’ statewide mask mandate will end February 28, Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Wednesday, although the state will continue to “recommend” them.

“We are now seeing the fastest rate of decline in our COVID-19 hospitalization metrics since the pandemic began. If these trends continue — and we expect them to —then on Monday, February 28th, we will lift the indoor mask requirement for the State of Illinois,” Pritzker announced on Wednesday, following other blue state leaders, such as Delaware Gov. John Carney (D), who made similar announcements this week.

However, the Democrat governor made it clear that “many” localities and businesses may still impose their own mask requirements and that those “must be respected.”

Throughout this pandemic, we’ve deployed the tools available to us as needed. Our approach has saved lives and kept our economy open and growing,” he added.

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, however, said that masks are “still recommended” in indoor settings, claiming that they “offer a layer of protection and for people who have an underlying health condition or who are around those who do, you may choose to continue wearing a mask.”

“Similarly, if you find yourself in a crowded, indoor setting, a mask can still help protect you. We will continue to recommend masks,” Ezike stressed.

According to the press release:

Illinoisans can resume activities without wearing a mask indoors on February 28th except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Federal requirements, in effect through at least March 18, include all transportation systems such as airports, planes, trains, and buses.

Pritzker’s announcement follows similar announcements from blue state governors across the country. For instance, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is ending mask mandates for school children in March, while Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) is dropping the indoor mask mandate this month and lifting the statewide school mask mandate in March.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) made similar announcements regarding masks this week as well.

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