Stay at Home Order Takes Effect In Illinois

Effective Saturday March 21 at 5:00 PM until the end of April 7, 2020, all Illinois residents are subject to a stay at home order from the Governor of Illinois. Governor Pritzker announced these measures at a 3:00 press conference today, March 20, 2020, at which he stated "I fully recognize I am choosing between saving people's lives and saving people's livelihoods." This order requires all individuals to shelter in place in their residences, to practice social distancing and for all business operations which are not "Essential Businesses and Operations" to cease all activities within the state other than “Minimum Basic Operations”. Working from home is exempt from the order. Except for certain exceptions, all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside of a single household are prohibited and all places of public amusement are closed. It is permitted to leave the home for health and safety, necessary supplies, for outdoor activity, to take care of others and to perform work at Essential Businesses and Operations.

The intent of the order is to ensure the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, and to slow the spread of Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) to the maximum extent possible.

What Businesses are Covered by the Orders?

All for-profit, non-profit and educational entities in Illinois are covered. "Essential Business and Operations" – which are permitted to continue – include, stores that sell groceries and medicine; food, beverage and cannabis production and agriculture; professional services including legal, accounting, real estate and insurance services; organizations that provide charitable or social services; media; gas stations and businesses needed for transportation; financial institutions; hardware and supply stores; critical trades (e.g., building and construction tradesmen and tradeswomen); mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services; educational institutions (for facility distance learning); laundry services; restaurants for consumption off-premises; certain work supply businesses (e.g., those that sell, manufacture or supply products needed for people to work from home and those that sell, manufacture or supply Essential Businesses and Operations with the support or materials necessary to operate): transportation businesses; home care; day care; manufacture, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries; critical labor union functions; hotels and motels; and funeral services.

Essential Business and Operations also includes all essential infrastructure, which includes, but is not limited to: food production, distribution, and sale; construction, public health emergency, building management and maintenance; airport operations; operation and maintenance of utilities, distribution centers; oil and biofuel refining; roads, highways, railroads, and public transportation; ports; cybersecurity operations; flood control; solid waste and recycling collection and removal; and internet, video, and telecommunications systems.

What are the Guidelines for Essential Businesses?

The order encourages Essential Businesses to remain open. To the greatest extent possible, Essential Businesses must comply with the "Social Distancing Requirements." Social Distancing Requirements include maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals (including with signage), making hand sanitizer readily available, holding separate operating hours for vulnerable populations and posting online whether a facility is open. The order indicates that the definition of Essential Businesses and Operations is meant to encompass the workers identified in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Responses issued on March 19, 2020, a copy of which is available here.

What if My Business Is Not On the List of "Essential" Businesses?

Generally, businesses that do not provide "essential" services must send workers home. All travel other than "essential travel" is prohibited, but essential travel includes travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Business and Operations as well as travel to return to a place of residence from outside Illinois. Businesses may continue operations that consist exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home). The order, however, contains a limited exception for "Minimum Basic Operations." Minimum Basic Operations includes the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:

  • The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business's inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
  • The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.

Is There a Penalty for Noncompliance?

Per the order, these guidelines may be enforced by state and local law enforcement against individuals and potentially businesses. Governor Pritzker expects voluntary compliance, but stated he has instructed law enforcement to seek cease and desist orders or misdemeanor penalties if necessary to facilitate compliance.

How Do I Get More Information?

This is an evolving area and changes on a daily basis. Please contact your Baker McKenzie lawyer if you need assistance navigating these issues. You can also click here for our most recent client alert on employee pay during COVID-19 leaves, furloughs, and closures.

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