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Illinois Covid-19 Laws & Regulations

As one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak, Illinois has acted aggressively to try to stop the spread of the virus. The state acted relatively early to institute strict controls to keep people from transmitting the coronavirus. Nonetheless, COVID-19 has still spread throughout Illinois as it has the rest of the country. Chicago, like most urban areas, has been hit hard.

Illinois' Stay-at-Home Order

Illinois is currently under a stay-at-home order issued by Governor Pritzker in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The order is scheduled to last through May 30, 2020. Here are some of the provisions of Illinois' stay-at-home order:

  • Only essential travel is permitted
  • All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited.
  • Residents can only leave their homes for essential activities that include health and safety, procuring necessary supplies and services, certain types of work, outdoor activities, and taking care of others.
  • Only essential businesses (as defined by the order) are to remain open.

Illinois' stay-at-home order is one of the stricter ones in the country.

Governor Pritzker's Executive Order

The Governor has periodically renewed the stay-at-home orders as the previous ones have expired. The stay-at-home order was renewed on May 1, 2020. Here are the prohibitions and terms of the May 1, 2020 Executive Order:

  • Health care providers have immunity from civil liability absent willful misconduct or gross negligence.
  • Residential eviction orders cannot be enforced during this time.
  • On-premises consumption at restaurants and bars is prohibited.
  • Schools in Illinois are closed through the end of May.
  • Any act of witnessing pursuant to Illinois law may be completed remotely.

Prior to issuing this executive order, the Governor also issued an order to wear face masks in public.

Disaster Proclamations in Illinois

The Governor first declared the state a disaster area on March 9, 2020. This order applied to all counties in the State of Illinois. At the time of the initial emergency order, there were 11 cases in the state.

On March 31, 2020, Governor Pritzker declared a continuing disaster in Illinois. By this time, there were almost 6,000 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The disaster proclamation had 12 different sections to both make it easier for the state to respond and to make it easier for Illinois residents to access testing and diagnostic services.

Governor Pritzker once again renewed the disaster declaration on April 30. He will seemingly continue to renew it each month so long as the public health crisis continues.

The Plan for Reopening Illinois

Illinois currently has a plan for the phased reopening of the state called Restore Illinois. Governor Pritzker's plan consisted of five phases. Illinois is already in Phase 2 of the plan which follows the flattening of the curve. Phase 2 allowed some businesses to reopen. Phase 3 cannot start before May 29.

For purposes of reopening, Governor Pritzker has divided the state into five regions. The conditions in each of the regions will be assessed before making any decisions.

Most importantly, the reopening plan states that Illinois will not be fully reopened until there is a vaccine or an effective treatment for COVID-19. Alternatively, there must be no new cases over a sustained period of time. Until then, there can be no large gatherings of over 50 people.

Meanwhile, the City of Chicago has indicated that it plans to issue its own plan for reopening within its own jurisdiction. Mayor Lightfoot has said that the city's guidance will complement the plan issued by Governor Pritzker for greater Cook County.

Chicago may need to opt for a stricter approach given that it has been hit hard by COVID-19.

Guidance and Orders on Face Masks in Public Spaces

Illinois has also given guidance on the wearing of face masks in public spaces. At first, the state recommended that residents wear masks in public spaces when they were not able to maintain proper social distancing. Among other things, this included the following:

  • Shopping at grocery and other stores
  • Riding public transportation
  • Visiting healthcare providers
  • Picking up food at the curbside
  • In general, when you are outside and feeling sick or coughing and sneezing.

At first, the guidance said that Illinois residents "should" wear a mask as opposed to "must." However, when Governor Pritzker extended the stay-at-home order on May 1, he modified it to include the requirement of wearing a mask in public spaces when social distancing was not possible. Thus, when you go to the store or other establishments in Illinois, it is now a requirement to wear a mask until this order is modified.

Most stores in the state had already required masks before the order went into place. Establishments will position employees or security guards at the front door and turn away those who do not have the proper masks.

There are still shortages of masks both in Illinois and around the country. By now, you should be able to order a mask online, although it may take some time to arrive. If you are in a jam and need a mask in a hurry, you can always make one on your own.

The CDC has given some guidance and tips for people who need to use masks to cover their faces. They recommend simple face coverings that should be enough to protect the public. The one thing that they advise against is the use of N95 or respiratory masks.

By following the state's guidance and orders, we can all keep ourselves and those around us safe during this difficult time.

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