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Illinois Issues COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order, Excluding Essential Businesses and Operations

To help slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Governor Pritzker issued a “stay-at-home” order for the state of Illinois this afternoon, following similar orders issued by the states of Pennsylvania, California and New York. The stay-at-home order will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020, and last through 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 (about 17 days).  

The governor’s executive order requires individuals not employed at an “essential business” or operation to work remotely from home and limit travel to only the essential businesses and activities listed in the order. Thus, the order allows citizens to continue conducting normal daily activities like going to grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospitals, etc. but only allows employees to travel to work if they work for an essential business or operation. The order will also prohibit local governments from enforcing any home evictions and all Illinois schools will remain closed until April 8.  

The list of essential businesses and other operations that are exempted from Illinois’ stay-at-home order can be viewed in the attached executive order, which incorporates the definition of essential businesses and operations from the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 19, 2020. The state also published Stay At Home FAQs to help citizens understand the how the order may affect their activities. 

In terms of enforcement, the governor stated it will likely follow these stages: (a) a warning; (b) possibly a cease-and-desist order; (c) business may have its license revoked or suspended; and (d) the business (or individual) could be charged with a misdemeanor offense. Businesses and other operations should carefully analyze whether they fall within one of the specified exceptions, and may consider providing employees with a letter explaining why they are permitted to travel.

Additional actions Governor Pritzker has taken over the last two days:

  • Issued a new executive order to expand use of telemedicine to allow more access to healthcare services from home – both for Medicaid patients and those covered by private insurance
  • Considered re-opening hospitals that have been closed
  • Activated the National Guard to assist hospitals and healthcare workers
  • Recommended to limit the number of children in childcare facilities while having greater access to childcare for essential workers
  • Issued a two-month extension for small businesses in filing sales tax payments and waived any associated late fees
  • Agreed with grocery store industry to consider implementing dedicated shopping hours for seniors and others most at risk

We will continue to keep you updated as developments occur.

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 81
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State Relations Advisor

Curt Fiedler is a state relations advisor in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg, where he focuses on helping clients navigate the legislative process and on government relations and legislative research throughout Illinois for the firm's Government Services and Finance Department.

312-338-5938

As a lobbyist, Stephen has represented clients before the Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Office of the Governor, state executive branch agencies and Cook County Board, and with the Illinois Congressional delegation. As a lawyer, Stephen has practiced before virtually every Illinois agency and executive branch office, as well as in the state and federal courts.

He brings keen insight to the needs of clients that intersect with Illinois state and local government and with the federal government, particularly in the regulatory, employment,...

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David B. Ritter is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. He is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Department and co-chairs the Logistics and Transportation Practice Group. He represents management nationwide in virtually all areas of labor and employment law, including employment discrimination and harassment claims, wage and hour disputes, non-compete, trade secret and restrictive covenants and employment torts.

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Norma W. Zeitler, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Chicago, Employment Law Attorney
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Norma W. Zeitler is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a member of the Labor and Employment Department and the Associations and Foundations Practice Group. She concentrates her practice on employment law, and represents employers in the defense of employment discrimination, retaliatory discharge, breach-of-contract, workplace tort, and restrictive covenant cases in federal and state courts and administrative agencies. She also provides day-to-day counseling for employers on all matters that impact the employment relationship.

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