March 26, 2020

Illinois Executive Order on COVID-19 Calls for Residents to Stay Home, Some Businesses to Halt

Holland & Knight Alert
Trisha M. Rich | Elizabeth Seaver Perdue | Francis L. Keldermans

Highlights

  • Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker's Executive Order in Response to COVID-19 has directed Illinois residents to stay at home and many businesses to cease operations.
  • The intent of the Executive Order is to ensure that as many Illinoisans as possible self-isolate in their residences and suppress the spread of COVID-19, while enabling essential services to continue.
  • Any business that is included in the Executive Order's definitions of Healthcare and Public Health Operations, Human Services Operations, Essential Government Functions or Essential Infrastructure is generally permitted to continue its operations. Businesses can also continue to operate if all of their employees work from their residences.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued Executive Order in Response to COVID-19 on March 20, 2020, ordering Illinois residents to "stay at home" and many businesses to cease operations. The Executive Order went into effect on March 21, 2020, and extends through April 7, 2020.

The intent of the Executive Order is to ensure that as many Illinoisans as possible self-isolate in their residences and suppress the spread of COVID-19, while enabling essential services to continue. This Holland & Knight alert provides general guidelines related to the Executive Order. Please note that this is a quickly developing area of law, and any specific questions related to the regulations in Illinois or in another state should be directed to a member of Holland & Knight's COVID-19 Response Team.

Individuals

Individuals are required to remain in their residences as much as possible. All public and private gatherings outside of single living units or gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, except for some limited exceptions.

If an individual works at an exempt entity, he or she may travel to and from work. Further, individuals can engage in "essential activities," which include medical visits, obtaining medical supplies, obtaining food, engaging in outdoor exercise or caring for a family member or pet in another household. Individuals also are able to engage in "essential travel," which includes traveling to care for the elderly, minors or other vulnerable persons; to and from educational institutions for distance learning; to return from outside of Illinois; and other required travel. At all times, people should attempt to implement all possible social distancing requirements.

Corporations and Nonprofits

Under the Executive Order, all businesses are required to cease any operations in Illinois, unless the business falls into one of the exemptions. There are, however, a significant number of exemptions. Any business that is included in the Executive Order's definitions of Healthcare and Public Health Operations, Human Services Operations, Essential Government Functions or Essential Infrastructure is generally permitted to continue its operations. Businesses can also continue to operate if all of their employees work from their residences.

Further, a wide range of other businesses are permitted to continue operations, including grocery stores; pet food and supply stores; media; businesses and organizations providing food, shelter or services to the economically disadvantaged; gas stations; banks and other financial institutions; laundromats; mailing and shipping services; restaurants and bars for delivery and carry-out service; transportation companies; home-based care companies; and professional services.

Even companies that do not fall into one of the many exemptions may continue to engage in "Minimum Basic Operations," which is the minimum amount of activity needed to maintain the value of inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits or related functions. When a non-exempt business is engaging in permitted Minimum Basic Operations, it must comply with social distancing requirements.

Finally, to the extent that travel is necessary for any of the exempt businesses or for the non-exempt businesses to engage in Minimum Basic Operations, that is generally allowed under the Executive Order.

Government Entities

Pursuant to the Executive Order, essential governmental functions are permitted to continue. Generally, those functions include all services provided by the State of Illinois or any municipal, township, county, subdivision or agency of government. They must be needed to ensure the continuing operation of governmental agencies or to provide support for the health, safety or welfare of the public. Each governmental body is charged with determining its own essential functions and identifying the employees or contractors required to perform those functions.

Further, certain public employees are categorically exempt from the Executive Order, including first responders, emergency management personnel, law enforcement and corrections personal, child protection and welfare personnel, military and others. Travel that is required to support essential government functions is permitted. To the extent possible, governmental bodies that are providing essential functions should implement social distancing requirements.

Social Distancing Requirements

Whether a business is exempt from the Executive Order or is a non-exempt business engaging in Minimum Basic Operations, all businesses should take care to implement the order's social distancing requirements.

These requirements are based largely on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those requirements include maintaining at least a six-foot distance from other people, washing hands as frequently as possible for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, not shaking hands and regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces.

More information about COVID-19 regulations and resources, along with a more comprehensive summary of the Illinois COVID-19 public health order to stay at home, is available on our COVID-19 Response Team web page. If you have a question about your business's requirements under Gov. Pritzker's Executive Order or related to a COVID-19 order from another state or jurisdiction, please contact the author or a member of Holland & Knight's COVID-19 Response Team.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed in these publications may change on a daily basis. Please contact the author or your responsible Holland & Knight lawyer for timely advice.


Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult competent legal counsel.


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