The Latest COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Illinois and Chicago Employers
Last week, Illinois moved in to “Phase 4” of the state’s five-stage Restore Illinois Plan (the “Plan”). As part of this transition, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity issued updated, industry-specific Phase 4 Guidelines (the “Guidelines”).
From an employer compliance standpoint, the transition from Phase 3 to 4 is not a radical change. Rather, the transition primarily involves loosened restrictions for already open businesses, and the reopening of additional industries (such as indoor recreation facilities like bowling alleys and skating rinks). Social distancing and other guidelines introduced in Phase 3 remain in effect. For an in-depth review of these guidelines, please see our advisory on Illinois and Chicago’s Phase 3 Reopening Guidance.
One notable change in the updated Guidelines is that to the extent that there was ambiguity in Phase 3 about whether health screenings were required to be “in person,” the updated guidance makes clear that “virtual screenings” are permitted. Employers should also note, from an enforcement perspective, that in its Workplace Health Safety Guidance, the Illinois Department of Public Health is now encouraging employees who have COVID-19 related-concerns about the safety of their work environment to contact the Workplace Rights Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Chicago, meanwhile, also issued its own Phase IV Guidelines, which are part of the city’s Be Safe reopening framework. Similar to the Illinois Guidelines, Chicago’s guidelines loosen restrictions for various industries, reopen additional industries (such as, gyms and indoor dining), and recommend that employers continue to ensure employees stay home when sick and follow other applicable health safeguarding measures (e.g., wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance).
Illinois employers should continue to carefully review the guidance relating to their specific industry and determine what steps they need to take in Phase 4 to be compliant with Illinois and, if applicable, Chicago guidelines. As the circumstances surrounding the current pandemic evolve, so, too, will the applicable guidance. For additional recommendations, see our Act Now Advisory on Phase 3.