Friday marks the start of another month of hunkering down for Illinois’ nearly 12.7 million residents, as Gov. JB Pritzker’s new stay-at-home order to fight COVID-19 takes effect with slightly loosened restrictions.
The governor has justified his latest order with modeling that predicts the public health crisis reaching its peak by mid-May, but legal challenges are arising in state and federal courts.
Here are a few quick things you need to know about the governor’s latest stay-at-home order that runs through May:
There are new rules for wearing masks
Face coverings will now be required in any indoor public areas, such as grocery stores, and any other outdoor locations where social distancing rules requiring six feet of separation can’t be maintained. The order applies to everyone over the age of 2 who can medically tolerate a mask. Additionally, essential employers and manufacturers will be required to provide their workforces with masks if workers can’t do their jobs six feet apart from one another.
Some businesses will reopen
Greenhouses, gardens and nurseries are being added to the list of essential businesses allowed to be open during the stay-at-home order. If you’ve got a shaggy dog, you’re also in luck: Pet-grooming services are on the list of companies that can reopen. The new order also permits retail stores not designated as essential businesses to reopen for telephone and online orders, and to provide curbside pick-up and delivery. In all cases, stores must enforce social distancing and require that masks be worn by employees.
Yes, you can resume some golfing and hiking
Golf courses and some state parks will be allowed to reopen. Golfers will have to adhere to social distancing, which undoubtedly means changes to how they pay for their rounds and buy refreshments. And state parks and recreation areas on the reopening list in northeastern Illinois include: Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park/North Point Marina; Chain O’ Lakes State Park; Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail (which includes Buffalo Rock, Channahon, Gebhard Woods, and William G. Stratton); Kankakee River State Park; and Moraine Hills State Park. Boating and fishing also are allowed in groups of no more than two people.
College students can return to campus to get their belongings
Illinois colleges and universities began shutting down in early March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take root. The quick closures caused many students to leave their belongings behind in their campus residences. But Pritzker’s new order allows educational institutions to establish procedures for dormitory move-outs, so long as social distancing requirements are followed.
Lawsuits are emerging to stop the stay-at-home order
The Democratic governor’s authority to renew his stay-at-home order is being challenged on two separate legal fronts by Republican State Reps. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, and John Cabello, R-Machesney Park. In his lawsuit, Bailey persuaded a judge in downstate Clay County this week to declare the stay-at-home order inapplicable to only himself. On Wednesday, Cabello filed a class-action suit in Winnebago County Circuit Court, seeking to have the order lifted for all Illinoisans. Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul has appealed the decision and is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to intervene immediately. And on Thursday, a church in Lena, Ill., near the state’s far northwestern corner, sued in federal court to block Pritzker’s order, alleging violations of its constitutionally protected freedoms of religion, speech and assembly.