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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.

©2020 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 182



About this Author

Peter Steinmeyer, Labor Attorney, Epstein Becker Law Firm

PETER A. STEINMEYER is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice of Epstein Becker Green and serves as the Chicago office Managing Shareholder. Practicing in all aspects of labor and employment law, he is also Co-Chair of the firm's Non-Competes, Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets Practice Group.

Mr. Steinmeyer advises clients on the enforcement and drafting of non-compete, non-solicitation, and employment agreements, litigates trade secret, non-compete, non-solicitation, raiding, and other restrictive covenant matters in...

Kellie Y. Chen Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Attorney Epstein Becker & Green Chicago, IL

KELLIE Y. CHEN is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the Chicago office of Epstein Becker Green. She focuses on litigation matters, primarily assisting employers with disputes involving employment law and counseling them on related compliance issues.

Ms. Chen’s experience includes:

  • Defending employers in complex labor and employment litigation matters involving single-employee discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Americans with...