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Friday, May 29, 2020

Governor Pritzker Issues New Disaster Declaration and Phase 3 EO

Yep, it's Friday, the day of the week we seem to get the most important and relevant information from the State of Illinois!

Today, Illinois Governor Pritzker issued a new Disaster Declaration over all counties in Illinois and a new Executive Order 2020-38 describing the new regulations for Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan. The documents have not yet been posted on the state's website, but you can read the Declaration here and the Executive Order here


General Authorizations

The Disaster Declaration declares the entire state a disaster area due to COVID-19. It directs various state agencies, including the Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to develop and implement strategies and plans to address the impact of the pandemic on residents, including expanded testing. The Illinois Board of Education is directed to address any impact to learning during the pandemic. All state agencies are directed to cooperate with the Governor, other state agencies, and local governments in disaster relief operations.

Open Meetings Act

Important to local government bodies is Section 12 which addresses remote meeting attendance. Previously, the Governor had suspended certain provisions of the Open Meetings Act requiring in person attendance at meetings of public bodies by Executive Order 2020-07, as extended. This Disaster Declaration does not extend the previous EO on remote meetings and instead references Senate Bill 2135 that amends the OMA and the Governor's finding that the public health  concerns raised by the COVID-19 pandemic renders in-person attendance of more than 10 people at the regular meeting location not feasible. 

At the time this blog post was published, Senate Bill 2135 had not yet been signed, so hopefully that happens sooner rather than later to ensure that public bodies have the guidance they need to proceed with remote meetings.


Social Distancing

The EO continues the previous social distancing requirement that individuals using shared spaces outside of their residence should maintain social distancing of at least six feet from others who they do not live with. 

Face Coverings

The EO continues the previous face covering requirement for all individuals over the age of two when they are in a public place and unable to maintain a six foot social distance, with medical exemptions. The requirement applies to indoor spaces, as well as outdoor areas where maintaining a six foot social distance is not always possible.

Limits on Gatherings

The EO prohibits any gathering of more than 10 people unless exempt under the EO, and encourages remote gatherings.

Go Outdoors

The EO encourages residents to conduct activities outdoors, consistent with public health guidance that the risks of transmission of COVID-19 are greatly reduced outdoors.

Guidance for Businesses and Other Organizations

Consistent with the previously released business guidelines and toolkits, the EO establishes certain guidance for businesses allowed to reopen in Phase 3, including encouraging remote work where possible, requiring employees to wear face coverings and practice social distancing, among others. The EO includes the various categories of businesses and organizations covered by the more specific guidelines previously released by the state. 

Businesses and other organizations are encouraged to read both the EO and the specific guidelines tailored for their operations to ensure compliance with the new restrictions. These requirements may include designating six foot distances between employees and customers, providing adequate hand sanitizer products for employees and customers, separate operating hours for vulnerable populations, providing remote access where practical, and ensuring adequate face coverings and PPE for employees in certain cases.


The EO contains the following exemptions:

1. Free exercise of religion. The EO expressly states that it "does not limit the free exercise of religion." Places of worship are encouraged to follow the recommended practices and guidelines published by the Illinois Department of Health (we will be reporting on those next week, so stay tuned), which suggest drive-in or outdoor services.

2. Emergency functions. The EO exempts the activities of first responders, emergency management personnel, dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement and corrections personnel, hazardous materials responders, child protection and child welfare personnel, housing and shelter personnel, military, and other governmental employees working for or to support emergency, although the EO encourages social distancing and other recommended public health measures.

3. Governmental functions. The EO provides that it does not apply to the US government, and does not affect services provided by the State or any municipal, township, county, subdivision or agency of government and needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies or to provide for or support the health, safety and welfare of the public.


Like previous EO's, state and local authorities are authorized to enforce under the IEMA. 


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