April 20, 2020
Dear Fellow Winnetkans,
Over the past few weeks, I have fielded numerous requests from both businesses and residents to implement a mandatory face mask requirement. As you may know, many of our neighboring communities have issued such mandates, including Glenview, Wilmette, Northbrook, and Highland Park. I have discussed this matter with both Village staff and leadership, and believe that it is important for all of us to follow CDC recommendations and use good judgment in social distancing outside of our homes.
I’ve heard concern about the potential for virus transmission in places like grocery stores and pharmacies, where essential business continues. I am strongly recommending that businesses require that all patrons entering their premises wear masks to protect employees and the general public. Businesses can post the mask requirement at their doors and enforce it: much like shoes and shirts, masks are currently appropriate protective wear for everyone.
Rather than implement legislation mandating such measures, I am appealing to the common sense and responsible nature of our residents, and asking you to do the right thing. We take this matter seriously and have considered many factors in electing to avoid a legalized mandate:
- Our community has done an outstanding job in following State guidelines, and I have witnessed much concern, kindness, and good will extended between neighbors.
- Our police and fire departments have been stretched to the limit. Creating additional enforcement expectations would only serve to tax already limited resources, and potentially increase exposure risk to our first responders.
- We are a small Village with relatively few establishments open for business within their facilities, and most businesses offer curbside pick-up.
- After an early initial spike of cases within our town, our efforts seem to be effective in flattening the curve. At the end of March, there were 48 cases reported in Winnetka, and since then, only 14 additional cases have emerged. Due to the scarce availability of test kits, I suspect there are more unreported cases, but our trend has been encouraging.
- Our public right-of-ways provide ample space to create appropriate physical distance from one another.
There are some who would find comfort in the establishment of mandatory edicts governing resident behavior, and these concerns are legitimate. Balancing the sensibilities of an independent citizenry, the need to conserve Village assets, and the challenges of fending off an invisible adversary can be difficult and controversial. Continuing to work collaboratively as caring neighbors just seems more “Winnetka” to me than creating laws.
Much has been asked of all of us. I truly believe there is broad recognition that we are in this together, and by continuing to guide our own responsible conduct, we will provide a healthy environment we can all enjoy…from a safe distance!