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An Important Message From Michelman & Robinson About Illinois Governor’s Statewide Stay-at-Home Order

MARCH 20, 2020

This afternoon, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced a stay-at-home order to prevent the further spread of coronavirus in the state, joining several other jurisdictions—California and New York included—that have enacted similar orders in recent days. By way of Governor Pritzker’s directive, as memorialized in COVID-19 Executive Order No. 8 (the Stay-at-Home Order), Illinois residents must remain at their places of residence, and leave only for “essential activities,” “essential government functions,” or to operate “essential businesses and operations,” each as defined in the Executive Order. In addition, the governor has mandated that all individuals in Illinois maintain social distancing requirements.

Here, in question and answer form, M&R addresses the new restrictions placed upon the citizens of Illinois.

Q. When does the Stay-at-Home Order go into effect and when will it end?
A. The Stay-at-Home Order requires most people to begin staying at home starting tomorrow (Saturday, March 21) at 5:00 pm. As of now, the order is scheduled to end on April 7, 2020.

Q. What exactly can Illinoisans continue to do while the order is in effect?

A. Like their counterparts in California, Illinois residents can leave their homes to shop for groceries, medications and other healthcare necessities; go to medical appointments (though they should check with their doctors or providers first); engage in outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, running, biking, or visiting public parks and open outdoor recreation areas (so long as social distancing is maintained); walk pets and take them to the veterinarian if necessary; and help others in need to get necessary supplies.

Otherwise, unless they are engaged in “essential activities,” “essential government functions,” or operating “essential businesses and operations” (which we define below), people living in Illinois must stay inside their residences and away from people outside their immediate family.

Q. Are businesses in Illinois permitted to continue operating while the order is in place?
A. Yes and no. Except for “essential businesses,” all companies are required to cease activity, with this caveat: non-essential businesses can have their workers work from home and continue “minimum basic operations,” which is defined as the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of a business’s inventory, maintain its physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions. Of note, “minimum basic operations” also include the minimum activities required to facilitate employees being able to work from home.

Q. Is the Stay-at-Home Order mandatory?
A. Yes, the Stay-at-Home Order may be enforced by state and local law enforcement personnel.

Q. Who can leave their homes to go to work during this period?
A. Unless, of course, they are sick, those working to provide products and services for “essential businesses or operations” (defined as “health services operations,” “essential government functions,” and “essential infrastructure”) may go to work. All others should work from home.

Q. Specifically what “essential activities” are permitted?
A. Illinois residents are permitted to leave their homes for:

  • Heath and safety, such as
    • Seeking emergency services
    • Obtaining medical supplies or medications
    • Visiting a healthcare professional
  • Necessary supplies and services, such as
    • Groceries and food
    • Household consumer products
    • Supplies needed to work from home
    • Products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences
  • Outdoor activity, such as
    • Walking
    • Hiking
    • Running
    • Biking
    • However, playgrounds are closed
  • Performance of “essential businesses or operations” (as defined below)
  • To take care of others, such as
    • Caring for a family member, friend or pet in another household
    • Transporting family members, friends or pets

Q. What activities are Illinoisans specifically forbidden to do by virtue of the Stay-at-Home Order?

A. Illinois residents are specifically prohibited from all public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household or living unit. More broadly, any gathering of more than 10 people is prohibited unless otherwise exempted by the order. Amusement parks and the like are off limits as well—all places of public amusement are to be closed.

Q. What businesses are considered “essential infrastructure” for purposes of Governor Pritzker’s directive?
A. “Essential infrastructure” businesses may remain open. These include those involved in food production, distribution and sale; construction; building management and maintenance; airport operations; operation and maintenance of utilities; distribution centers; oil and biofuel refining; roads, highways, railroads and public transportation; ports; cybersecurity operations; flood control; solid waste and recycling collection and removal; and Internet, video, and telecommunications systems.

Q. What businesses are considered “essential businesses and operations” for purposes of the Stay-at-Home Order?
A. “Essential businesses and operations” may remain open as well. These include:

  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Food, beverage and cannabis production and agriculture
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services
  • Media
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation
  • Financial institutions
  • Hardware and supply stores
  • Critical trades (including building and construction tradespeople, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC technicians, painters, moving and relocation services, and others who provide services necessary for the safety, sanitation and operation of “essential activities,” “essential businesses and operations,” and residences)
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services
  • Educational institutions
  • Laundry services
  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises
  • Companies that sell, manufacture or supply products needed for people to work from home
  • Suppliers for “essential businesses and operations”
  • Transportation services
  • Home-based care and services
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Professional services (including legal, accounting, insurance, real estate, appraisal and title insurance firms)
  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries
  • Critical labor union functions
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services

Q. If I operate one of these “essential businesses,” is it business as usual for me and my employees?

A. Yes, subject to the Stay-at-Home Order’s requirement that social distancing be observed.
Q. Can employees of “essential businesses” take public transportation (buses, subways, trains)?
A. Yes, but again, only if they work for an “essential business,” their travel is “essential” to get to work, and if social distancing is maintained.
Q. What are the applicable social distancing requirements?

A. In order to practice social distancing, everyone in Illinois must strive to:

  • Maintain at least six-feet of distance between themselves and others
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible
  • Regularly clean high-touch surfaces
  • Not shake hands

Q. Are their particular social distancing requirements for “essential businesses”?
A. Yes, “essential businesses” are required to:

  • Designate six-foot distances with signage, tape or by other means so that employees and customers in line can maintain appropriate distance
  • Have hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers
  • Implement separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers
  • Post online whether a facility is open and how best to reach it, and continue services by phone or remotely

Q. Mine is not an “essential business,” can I allow my employees to work remotely while they are ordered to stay at home?

A. Yes, all businesses may have their employees work from home, though you should have detailed work-from-home policies in place.

As more and more of our leaders implement these drastic measures—like Governor Pritzker did today in Illinois—it is important to know (1) the parameters of what you can and cannot do in the wake of their orders and (2) the impact of the restrictions upon your business operations. Rest assured, we at M&R are here to answer your stay-at-home questions or assist with any other coronavirus-related business issues that you may face.

We are working diligently to keep our clients up to date on coronavirus-related developments. Nevertheless, these developments are changing daily and, in some cases even hourly, so it is important that you make sure you are dealing with the most current information. That being said, this alert is not offered, and should not be relied on, as legal advice. You should consult an attorney for guidance and counsel regarding any specific concern or situation.