If you're going out to your favorite restaurant or watering hole, starting today you'll be required to be masked up while placing an order, receiving food or drink, picking up an order or interacting with staff at any time.

It's not a major change from the way we've been doing business for the last few weeks, but it is a change. Before today, you needed a face covering upon entering, and when you left your table.

Governor Pritzker, in delivering the new mandate, said that this measure is for the protection of the restaurant and bar workers who are "working the front lines" in dealing with the public:

We all want this pandemic to end and to get back to normal; if everyone would wear their mask in public and keep a reasonable distance from one another, we can reduce infections and deaths in a short period of time, and keep them low until a vaccine or treatment is discovered.

Here in the Rockford area, we appear to be doing better in our designated region than in a couple of other spots in Illinois.

The "South Suburban" region, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, topped the state threshold for COVID-19 positive tests of 8 percent for three consecutive days. Starting today, the South Suburban region will be dealing with even more restrictions including limits on gatherings to 25 people, and bans on indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

Governor Pritzker has stated that if that region doesn't drop below the required levels in the next two weeks, even more restrictions will be put into place.

Just don't let the new rules and restrictions keep you from visiting your favorite spots for food and drink. Rockford's great local bars and restaurants are still fighting to keep their doors open and their businesses afloat. Let's not abandon them because we have to wear our masks a bit more in their establishments than we did yesterday.