Legal Update

Mar 24, 2020

Illinois Releases Guidance to Determine What is an “Essential Business” Under the Stay-at-Home Order

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By Chantelle C. Egan, Andrew L. Scroggins, and Megan P. Toth

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Seyfarth Synopsis:  The Illinois Department of Commerce has published two helpful documents for businesses to determine whether they qualify as an “Essential Business” under the Illinois’ statewide Stay-at-Home Order (effective March 21-April 7) and what that means for their operations and their employees.

Illinois recently published a flow chart that provides a step-by-step approach to determining if a business is “essential,” as well as what companies must consider when deciding whether to remain open and how to continue conducting their business and/or maintain minimum basic operations. Bear in mind, however, that this is a simplified version of the list of essential business categories. If your business does not appear, you may want to consult the full text of the Order. Likewise, while the flow chart includes some helpful reminders about steps to take to maintain a healthy and safe working environment, your business should check that it is complying with all applicable guidelines.

Illinois has also provided a reference document, listing the essential business categories and providing some useful Q&A.  It includes specific answers to many operational and employment-related questions that many businesses are asking in light of the Order.  A few noteworthy highlights include:

  • Companies can continue minimum basic operations, like value of inventory, payroll, ensuring security, and ensuring employees can work remotely.
  • Retail stores may have a person come in daily to pick up online orders and take them to the post office.
  • Golf courses, CBD/nutritional supplement product sales, and personal training are highlighted as not essential.
  • Landscaping and residential remodeling may continue.
  • Employees who live in Illinois but work in a state that is not subject to any similar order may still travel to their job.
  • Auto dealerships are essential with respect to performing repairs, but show rooms should remain closed, except for appointment-only sales.

There is nothing, however, in either of the two documents that suggests that Illinois is requiring businesses to obtain a waiver in order to remain open and these tools appear to be strictly for the purpose of conducting self-assessments.