Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issues “shelter-in-place” order for entire state of Illinois

March 21, 2020

Employment Law Alert

Author(s): Tevin Hopkins, Brian V. Alcala

All citizens of the state of Illinois are ordered to “shelter-in-place,” effective March 21, 2020 through April 7, 2020, but broad exemptions exist for essential businesses.

On March 20, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10, which orders all citizens of the state of Illinois to “shelter-in-place.” The order took effect at 5:00 p.m. on March 21, 2020, and remains in effect through April 7, 2020. This decision effectively orders all residents of Illinois to remain in their homes except for “Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations.” The decision comes after the mayor of Chicago suburb Oak Park and governors of other states, including California and New York, have issued similar orders. Earlier this week, Governor Pritzker activated the Illinois National Guard in efforts to help slow the spread of the virus. Notably, they will have no role in enforcing the order; that will be left to state and local law enforcement.

The order requires all non-essential business operations to cease, and prohibits activities — including public gatherings — outside a single household or living unit and travel by automobile, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, train, plane, or public transit, except for the purposes of performing

Essential Activities. In addition, it closes all places of public amusement to the public, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, playgrounds, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, concert and music halls, and country clubs or social clubs.

Fortunately, the order explains, in detail, what is and is not considered Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, and Essential Business Operations for which travel would be permitted. According to the order, this includes activities essential to health and safety; obtaining necessary supplies and services; engaging in outdoor activity; performing certain types of work, including providing essential products and services at Essential Business Operations; and taking care of others.

Several businesses will be forced to cease operations through April 7, 2020, with the exemptions for businesses defined by the order as “Essential Business Operations,” of which there are several categories. Even for businesses that are exempt from the order, social distancing and working from home is encouraged where possible. The “exempt categories” are set forth below.

An employee of an exempt business and category might want to carry with them a letter from their employer (as well as their work identification badge) stating that they work for an exempt business and are traveling to/from work during these hours, and be prepared to present the phone number for more information. This way, if such employees are stopped by the police/authorities, they have evidence of legitimate activity.


Essential businesses and operations

This includes stores that sell groceries and medicine; food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture; organizations that provide charitable and social services, such as food banks or places that provide shelter; media operations, including newspapers, television, radio, and other media services; gas stations and other transportation businesses; financial institutions; hardware and supply stores; critical trades, including construction, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and cleaning and janitorial staff; mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services; educational institutions; laundry services; restaurants for off-premise consumption; businesses that sell supplies to work from home; transportation; home-based care services; residential facilities and shelters; professional services, including legal, accounting, insurance, and real estate services; daycare centers for employees exempt by the order; manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries; critical labor union functions; hotels and motels; and funeral services.

Businesses are also allowed to continue with their minimum basic operations, which includes things such as inventory, preservation of a business’s physical plant and equipment, ensuring security, process payroll and employee benefits, or other related functions.

Essential infrastructure

This includes, but is not limited to, businesses related to food production, distribution, and sale; construction; building management and maintenance; airport operation; maintenance of utilities, including water, sewer, gas, and electric; roads, highways, railroads, and public transportation; and cyber security, internet, video, and telecommunications systems.

Healthcare and public operations

This includes but is not limited to hospitals; clinics; dental offices; pharmacies; public health entities, including those that compile, model, analyze, and communicate public health information; pharmaceutical, pharmacy, medical device and equipment, and biotechnology companies (including operations, research, and development manufacture and supply chain); organizations collecting blood, platelets, plasma, and other necessary materials; licensed medical cannabis cultivation centers; reproductive healthcare providers; eye care centers, including those that sell glasses and contact lenses; home healthcare services providers; mental health and substance abuse treatment providers; other healthcare facilities and suppliers, and providers of any related and/or ancillary healthcare services; and entities that transport and dispose of medical materials and remains.

This also includes technicians, logistics, and warehouse operators and distributors of medical equipment; personal protective equipment (PPE); medical gases; pharmaceuticals; blood and blood products; vaccines; testing materials; laboratory supplies; cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, or sterilization supplies; and tissue paper products.

Human services operations.

This includes, but is not limited to, services provided at any Human Services Operation, including any provider funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, or Medicaid that is providing services to the public. This includes, for example, long-term care facilities; residential facilities and shelters for adults, seniors, children, and people with disabilities or mental illnesses; and businesses that provide food, shelters, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals.

Essential governmental functions

This includes, but is not limited to, first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement and corrections personnel, hazardous materials responders, child protection and welfare personnel, housing and shelter personnel, and military and other governmental employees working to support Essential Businesses and Operations.

The full Order can be found here.

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. If you have any questions or require any further information regarding these or other related matters, please contact your regular Nixon Peabody LLP representative. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.

Back to top