Who or What Is “Essential” in Illinois

On March 20, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker issued executive order 2020-10 (Executive Order), which ordered all Illinois residents to “stay at home or at their place of residence” from 5:00 pm on March 21, 2020, until April 7, 2020, unless otherwise exempted under the executive order. On April 1, 2020, Governor Pritzker extended the stay at home period until April 30, 2020.

The stay at home executive order followed Governor Pritzker’s March 9, 2020 Disaster Proclamation, which “declared all counties in the State of Illinois a disaster area” in response to COVID-19. The executive order does not prohibit residents from essential activities such as going to the grocery store or receiving medical care, but it does otherwise restrict travel and require residents to “stay at home” unless one of the five following categories of exemptions apply: (1) healthcare and public health operations; (2) human services providers; (3) essential infrastructure; (4) essential government functions; and (5) essential businesses and operations. The executive order provides that many of the exempted categories are to “be construed broadly.” Furthermore, Section 17 of the executive order provides that it “may be enforced by State and local law enforcement.”

The five exempted categories are described below:

  • Healthcare and Public Health Operations (Executive Order § 7)
    Although hospitals, healthcare providers, pharmacies, clinics and other public health operations are clearly covered by this section, the exemption also applies to “manufacturers, 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 and paper towel products.” Veterinary care and “all healthcare services provided to animals” also are covered. Not covered by this section are “fitness and exercise gyms, spas, salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, and similar facilities.”
  • Human Service Operations (Executive Order § 8)
    This exemption applies to entities such as long-term care facilities, shelters, homes for people with disabilities, transitional facilities, adoption agencies, development centers and “businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals, individuals with physical, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities, or otherwise needy individuals.”
  • Essential Infrastructure (Executive Order § 9)
    Traditional infrastructure operations are exempted and include such key operations as: food production and distribution, construction, building management, airport operations, utilities (e.g., water, sewer, gas, electrical), oil refining, roads, railroads, public transportation, telecommunications, public waste/recycling, and cybersecurity operations.
  • Essential Government Functions (Executive Order § 10)
    Key governmental functions are exempted such as: first responders, emergency management personnel, law enforcement, court personnel, corrections officers, child welfare personnel, and other governmental employees who “support” Essential Business and Operations as defined by the executive order.
  • Essential Businesses (Executive Order § 12)
    The fifth and final category of exempted entities and individuals is Essential Business and Operations, which itself is comprised of 23 sub-categories of exempted businesses: (a) stores that sell groceries and medicine; (b) food, beverage and cannabis production and agriculture; (c) charitable and social service organizations when providing food, shelter, social services and “other necessities of life” for needy individuals; (d) media; (e) gas stations and businesses needed for transportation; (f) financial institutions; (g) hardware and supply stores; (h) critical trades; (i) mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services; (j) educational institutions for purposes of providing distance learning; (k) laundry services; (l) restaurants for consumption off-premises; (m) supplies to work from home; (n) supplies for Essential Business and Operations; (o) transportation; (p) home-based care and services; (q) residential facilities and shelters; (r) professional services; (s) day care centers for employees exempted under the executive order; (t) manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries; (u) critical labor union functions; (v) hotels and motels; and (w) funeral services and cemeteries. Many of these sub-categories are very broad and include those entities that “support” the functions within the sub-category.

The State of Illinois has created a “Stay at Home FAQs” webpage with additional information and guidance on the executive order, which can be found at:
https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/stay-at-home-faqs

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