On March 20, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10 titled Executive Order in Response to COVID-19. The order, which goes into effect on March 21, 2020, at 5 p.m. and runs until April 7, 2020, requires all individuals living in Illinois to remain at home unless performing an Essential Activity, Essential Government Function, or to operate an Essential Business and Operation as defined by the executive order.
The order mandates that all non-essential business and operations activities (expect those exempted by the order) immediately cease. Businesses are instructed that they may only continue non-essential functions if they are performed by the employee in his or her own residence. The order further prohibits travel by anyone and any means for the purpose of performing non-essential business and operations.
While the Governor’s order may seem drastic, before making any changes, employers should thoroughly consider the list of operations deemed “essential infrastructure” or “essential businesses” by the order, and thus exempt. Further, the order states that the exempt categories are to be construed liberally.
Exempt infrastructure includes:
- Food production, distribution and sale
- Building management and maintenance
- Airport operations
- Utilities, including water, sewer and gas
- Distribution centers
- Oil and biofuel refining
- Roads, highways, railroads, ports and public transportation
- Waste management
- Internet/Telecommunication services
Exempt Essential Businesses and Operations include:
- Food production, including farming, livestock, fishing, and baking, distribution, and sale, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, certified farmers’ markets, convenience stores, cannabis dispensaries and cultivation centers, and other establishments that sell similar items, including household consumer products, pet supplies, etc., as well as animal shelters, rescues and kennels.
- Charitable and social services (both religious and secular), including food banks and other organizations that provide necessities of life to economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, or individuals with disabilities or otherwise need assistance as a result of this emergency.
- Gas stations and other transportation related services, such as auto supply and repair businesses, as well as bicycle repair shops.
- Financial institutions, including banks, consumer lenders, credit unions, title companies, appraisers, financial markets, and related entities.
- Hardware stores and businesses that sell electrical, plumbing and heating materials.
- Critical trades (electricians, plumbers, painters, movers, etc.)
- Mail and other delivery and shipping services.
- Educational institutions exempt from previous executive orders
- Laundry services
- Carry out restaurants and schools that typically provide meals to students so long as the food is consumed off-premises.
- Providers of supplies necessary for telework
- Suppliers, manufacturers and sellers of goods for essential businesses and operations, such as I.T., electronics, electrical, plumbing and heating equipment, sanitary equipment, personal hygiene products, and firearm and ammunition suppliers for purposes of personal security, among others.
- Transportation, including airports, taxis, transportation networks, vehicle rental companies, paratransit, and other public, private and commercial transportation and logistics services necessary for Essential Activities as defined by the order.
- In home care providers
- Residential facilities and shelters
- Professional services (including legal, accounting, insurance, and real estate)
- Day care centers granted an emergency license for children of employees exempted by the Executive Order to work as permitted.
- Manufacturing, distribution, and sales of critical products in and for industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, chemicals and sanitization, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture, food and beverage, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, national defense, communications, and other products used by Essential Businesses and Operations.
- Critical union services, such as the administration of health and welfare funds and personnel checking on the well-being and safety of members.
- Hotels and motels to the extent used for lodging and delivery or carry-out food services.
- Funeral services
Employers are encouraged to prepare documentation for their Illinois workers to carry with them to establish they meet the above criteria. The attorneys at McMahon Berger can assist with creating the proper format for such communications.
Although this appears to be a case of the exceptions defining the rule, Illinois employers should be cognizant of the severity of the COVID-19 virus and its high communicability rate. The purpose of the Governor’s order is to slow the spread of the virus so that it does not overwhelm our healthcare systems. Accordingly, employers should take heed that it has the potential to overwhelm other businesses too if employees who are exposed to the virus at work are all unable to work at the same time, resulting in the inability to continue to operate. Therefore, it is highly recommended that any employees capable of successfully performing their duties from home be placed on telework while the executive order is in effect.
A copy of the executive order may be found at: https://www2.illinois.gov/Documents/ExecOrders/2020/ExecutiveOrder-2020-10.pdf.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years, and are available to discuss these and other issues. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.