What does Gov. Pritzker stay-at-home order mean?

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday, March 20th issued a stay-at-home order, the strictest statewide action he’s taken to date in the effort to prevent further spread of the new coronavirus. Pritzker’s order follows statewide school closures, restrictions on the size of gatherings and an order for bars and restaurants to suspend dine-in service. Here’s what the new action means:

When does the order take effect and how long will it last?

The order takes effect at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 21st. It will be in effect until the end of the day Tuesday, April 7th.

Can I leave my home?

Yes, under the order people can leave their homes to get exercise outdoors and walk their pets. Local roads, including interstate highways and tollways, as well as public transit, will remain open and operating. Under the order, homes and residences include hotels and motels, shared rental units and shelters.

While outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, running and biking are all allowed, social distancing requirements should be followed. Playgrounds were ordered closed.

What are the other key exceptions to the order?

The directive is aimed at getting people to stay in their homes, but a number of essential needs are exempt, including going to the grocery store, putting gas in vehicles and trips to the pharmacy. Those businesses are not being ordered to close.

Restaurants will be able to continue offering carry-out service. Pritzker had ordered dine-in service suspended as of Monday evening, March 16th.

A number of businesses and industries will remain open, including banks, coin laundries and veterinary services. But if people are able to work from home, “now is the time when you must,” Pritzker said.

“The fundamental building blocks that keep our society safe and steady will not be closing down,” Pritzker said. “You can still pick up dinner from your local restaurant, pick up your prescriptions and just spend time with your family.”

What is considered an essential business?

The order encourages all “essential businesses and operations” to remain open, but directs them to enforce six-foot social distancing for both employees and customers, including when customers are standing in line.

Under the order, “essential businesses” cover a wide variety of workers, including the health care, public health, and human services professionals at the front lines of the state’s COVID-19 response. In addition, those providing essential government and infrastructure needs – such as waste collection, airport operations, law enforcement officers, and child welfare personnel – are exempt from the order.

Other exempt businesses include stores that sell groceries and medicine; producers of food, beverages, and cannabis; outlets, such as newspapers, radio, and television; gas stations; laundromats; and banks and other financial institutions. Critical tradespeople – such as plumbers, electricians, and exterminators – will also be able to continue working outside their homes.

Can I travel?

Pritzker’s executive order allows “essential travel,” which includes travel into or out of the state if necessary for maintaining essential business operations.

Travel to work for what’s considered an essential business or governmental function; to care for an elderly person, minors and dependents and someone with disabilities or other vulnerable people; travel required by law enforcement or court order; travel to return to one’s residence, including out of state; and travel to a school or other educational center to obtain distance learning materials or meals are considered essential travel.

People who continue to use public transportation “must comply with social distancing requirements to the greatest extent feasible.” The order prohibits non-essential travel by a range of means, though, including by car, motorcycle, bicycle, train and plane.

What are the limits on gatherings?

The executive order prohibits public and private gatherings “of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit,” with some exceptions. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, which shrinks a Pritzker order from earlier this week that capped gatherings at under 50, though officials had been encouraging people in Illinois to follow the CDC guidance about limiting gatherings to under 10. The order directs “all places of public amusement,” both indoors and outdoors, closed, including museums, movie theaters, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos, playgrounds and social clubs closed to the public.

How will the order be enforced?

Both state and local law enforcement entities are authorized to enforce the executive order. Law enforcement officers will monitor for violations and take action when necessary, but Pritzker acknowledged the resources don’t exist to “police every individual’s behavior,” and said he is relying on Illinoisans to be “good members of their communities, and good citizens, working together to keep each other safe.”

Law enforcement officers will approach people they see who are in violation of the order, Pritzker said, adding “they would go talk to them and ask them not to.”

If someone refuses to comply, an officer could go to court for a cease and desist order, or as a last resort, could issue a reckless conduct misdemeanor, Pritzker said.