Legal Update

Mar 21, 2020

Statewide Stay-at-Home Order Issued in Illinois

Click for PDF

Sign up for our Coronavirus roundup email.
Visit our Coronavirus resource page.

Seyfarth Synopsis: Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a stay-at-home order for the entire state of Illinois, effective March 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm. All Illinois residents have been ordered to stay at home, subject to exceptions for “essential activities” and “essential businesses and operations.” The stay-at-home order is to remain in effect until Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

All Illinoisans Must Remain at Home Except for Essential Activities

The Illinois order requires all individuals to remain at home, except for “Essential Activities,” including the following:

  • Health and Safety - to engage in activities or perform tasks essential to your health and safety, such as obtaining medication or visiting a health care professional.
  • Care of Others - to care for family member, friend or pet in another household.
  • Necessary Supplies and Services - to obtain or deliver necessary supplies or services (e.g., groceries, office supplies, household consumer goods).
  • Outdoor Activity - to engage in outdoor exercise, including walking, but with social distancing; playgrounds, however, are closed.
  • Perform Work at an Essential Business and Operations - to perform work providing essential products and services at Essential Businesses, or for non-essential businesses, performance of including Minimum Basic Operations (more on this below).

The order also provides that individuals may also leave their homes to: (1) work for or obtain services through health care and public health operations, (2) work for or obtain services at any human services operations; (3) work for or provide services or perform any work necessary to offer, provision, operate and maintain and repair essential infrastructure; and (4) if you are a government employee, working for or to support essential business and operations.  

All Non-Essential Businesses Must Close Except for Minimum Basic Operations

The Illinois order permits Essential Businesses to remain open. The order, however, requires that all “Non-essential Businesses and Operations” to cease on premise work, except for “Minimum Basic Operations.” 

What are “Essential Business and Operations?” The order permits Essential Businesses and Operations to remain open and for employees to travel to “operate” Essential Businesses. The order does not define “operate” or limit which employees actually operate the business. It does, however, contain a fairly extensive lists of “Essential Businesses.” Some of the highlights include:

  • Health Care Operations. Employers such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, biotechnology companies, health care suppliers, mental health services, home health entities, veterinarians, among other health-related enterprises.
  • Grocery Stores. Any store that sell groceries, even if it also sells other non-grocery products.
  • Restaurants. Restaurants may remain open for food preparation, delivery, and carryout services only. Dine-in services are prohibited under the orders.
  • Businesses Needed for Transportation. This may include ride hailing, taxis, airlines, etc., provided they are used for “Essential Activities.”
  • Banks and Financial Institutions.
  • Professional Services. Legal, accounting, real estate, and insurance service providers are included.
  • Childcare Facilities. Only childcare facilities enabling employees exempted from the orders to work. The orders place a number of restrictions on the facilities.
  • Essential Infrastructure. Employers engaged in construction on housing, and public infrastructure, as well as waste management companies, airports, utilities, public transportation entities, and telecommunications providers.
  • First Responders. Fire, police, court personnel, and other emergency management personnel fall under this category.
  • Charitable and Social Services Providers. Employers such as food pantries, homeless shelters, and other social services providers.
  • Media Services. This includes newspapers, television, and radio companies.
  • Residential Facilities. Group homes, and other residential care providers are included.
  • Educational Institutions. Except all are ordered closed until April 7, but e-learning may be available.
  • Food, Beverage and Cannabis Production and Agriculture.
  • Businesses Providing Supplies. If a business is providing supplies to Essential Business and Operations or products that enable people to work from home, they are deemed essential.
  • Some Other Entities. Delivery services, gas stations, auto-repair business, laundromats, dry cleaners, hardware and supply stores, office supply stores, home repair service providers (e.g., plumbers, electricians and exterminators), funeral services, among others.

What are “Minimum Basic Operations”?  For “non-essential” companies, employees can also report to the workplace, providing they maintain social distancing, to provide a few basic operations. These include:

  • Maintenance of the value of the business’ inventory
  • Security
  • Preservation the condition of the physical plant and equipment
  • Payroll and employee benefits and for related functions
  • Activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely

Social Distancing at the WorkplaceWhether you are operating an essential business or maintaining minimum basic operations of a non-essential business, the order requires businesses to take active measure to comply with social distancing, including for example—designating six foot distances with signage or tape, having hand sanitizing products available for use, having separate operating hours for vulnerable populations, and providing online and remote access.

Impact on Illinois Employers

Whether you operate an essential or non-essential business, the Illinois order has significant implications for all employers. Therefore, businesses with Illinois employees should be thinking about how they will address business closures and travel restrictions, and how they look out for the health and safety of employees who continue to work through the pandemic. Employers with employees who will be traveling to and from work as permitted by the order should provide employees with a letter that verifies the employee is traveling to/from work for an Essential Business or to provide Minimum Basic Operations in the event they are stopped.