Illinois Governor Issues “Stay at Home” Order to Combat COVID-19 Spread

March 23, 2020

On March 20, 2020, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order to combat the spread of COVID-19. Executive Order 2020-10, which went into effect at 5 p.m. on March 21, requires all individuals living in Illinois to stay at home except to participate in “essential activities” or to operate “essential business and operations.” The order also requires all “non-essential businesses” to close or transition entirely to telecommuting until at least April 7, except to maintain “minimum basic operations.”

The order permits individuals to leave their homes to conduct the following “essential activities”:

  1. Essential health and safety activities, including seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a healthcare professional for any member of the household, including pets

  2. Trips to obtain necessary supplies and services, including groceries and food, household consumer products, supplies needed to work from home and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences

  3. Outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, running and biking, provided the individuals comply with social distancing requirements (e.g., no more than 10 individuals in a group, with six feet of distance between individuals), and excepting the use of playgrounds

  4. Caregiving, including the provision of care to family members, friends and pets in other households

  5. Work at essential businesses, including healthcare and public health operations, human services operations, essential government functions and essential infrastructure

Individuals using shared or outdoor spaces outside their residence must at all times, as much as reasonably possible, observe social distancing requirements, including maintaining a six-foot distance from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds “as frequently as possible” or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces and not shaking hands.

The following businesses may, and are encouraged to, continue to operate, and individuals may leave their homes to work for or obtain services from such businesses. These types of businesses are required to comply with the above social distancing requirements to the greatest extent feasible.

  1. Healthcare and public health operations, including hospitals, clinics, dental offices, eye care centers, veterinarians, pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, public health entities, and biotechnology and medical device and equipment companies (including operations, research and development, manufacture, and supply chain); as well as organizations collecting blood, platelets and plasma; licensed medical cannabis dispensaries and centers; reproductive healthcare providers; eye care centers; home healthcare providers; entities that transport medical materials and remains; and “other healthcare facilities and suppliers and providers or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services.”

    1. Healthcare and public health operations do not include fitness and exercise gyms, spas, salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors and “similar facilities.”

  2. Human services operations, including long-term care facilities; adult shelters; residential centers and settings for seniors, children and/or people with disabilities; adoption agencies; and businesses that provide food, shelter and social services.

  3. Essential government functions, such as first responders, law enforcement and court personnel, as determined by each local government body.

  4. Essential infrastructure, such as utilities, transportation, food production, airports, ports, roads and telecommunications providers.

  5. “Essential businesses and operations,” including:

    1. Essential retail, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants and bars (for takeout/delivery only), and hardware stores;

    2. Essential manufacturing, distribution and supply chain, including food production and processing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fuel, sanitation, agriculture and cannabis dispensaries, as well as products used for national defense and by other essential businesses;

    3. Essential services, including laundromats, dry cleaners, auto repair, trash and recycling services, mail and shipping services, child care, funeral homes, animal shelters and storage for essential businesses;

    4. Media, including newspapers, television and radio;

    5. Financial institutions, including banks, payday lenders, pawnbrokers and services related to financial markets;

    6. Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations, such as homeless shelters, food banks and other service providers caring for disadvantaged, disabled or needy individuals;

    7. Critical trades and professional services, including trades such as electricians, exterminators and plumbers, as well as professional legal, accounting and real estate services;

    8. Transportation and lodging, such as airlines, taxi and ridesharing services, vehicle rental services, and hotels and motel lodging;

    9. Educational institutions, for purposes of facilitating long-distance learning and research;

    10. Essential services for maintaining safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses, such as security, law enforcement, funeral services, building code enforcement, disinfection, and emergency management and response; and

    11. Vendors that provide essential services or products, such as logistics, technology support, home-based care for adults or children, or supplies to work from home.

Businesses not included in these categories must cease operations except “minimum basic operations,” defined as the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of inventory, preserve physical plants and equipment, process payroll or benefits, or facilitate employees working remotely.

The governor’s order requires businesses staying open, and those engaging in minimum basic operations, to take certain measures to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements, including visually marking six-foot distances for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate distances; making hand sanitizer and sanitizing products available for employees and customers; implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers; and posting whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely. The order also directs all state, county and local law enforcement officers to cease enforcement of eviction orders for residential premises.

Beyond the short descriptions excerpted above, and a short related FAQ sheet, the governor’s office has provided little detail about which businesses within each sector are considered “essential” and which are not. However, the order explicitly states that its definition of essential businesses and operations is meant to encompass the workers identified in the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response , issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 19, 2020.

Illinois and other states very likely will provide additional clarity regarding which businesses and activities are essential as the week progresses. McGuireWoods will continue to monitor developments. If you have questions about how this order impacts your business, you can contact any of the McGuireWoods COVID-19 Response Team members listed below.

McGuireWoods has published additional thought leadership related to how companies across various industries can address crucial COVID-19-related business and legal issues.

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