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Gov. Pritzker Issues ‘Stay-At-Home’ Order

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order closing all Illinois schools from March 17 through at least March 30.
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Illinois Office of Communication and Information
Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order closing all Illinois schools from March 17 through at least March 30.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide stay-at-home order starting Saturday at 5 p.m. through April 7 to slow the spread of COVID-19. State public health officials reported Illinois’ fifth death from the virus Friday.

Mike Smith reports.

The governor ordered all non-essential businesses to close until further notice and is encouraging those who can work from home to do so.

Though officials described the several-week shutdown as the “new normal” for the time being, Pritzker said for the vast majority of residents who have been following social distancing recommendations there won’t be much of a change. Going for walks or stopping at the grocery store are still permitted, but playgrounds will be closed.

Pritzker announced last week that schools would be closed for two weeks, but now extended the order through April 8.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports 4,286 COVID-19 tests as of Friday. The total number of confirmed cases in the state is 585, with five fatalities thus far. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said this week there are still not enough COVID-19 tests in the state.

Essential Services

Essential services such as grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies will remain open. Businesses that provide services such as plumbing or electrician repair, radio and television stations, newspapers, laundromats, among other businesses can remain in operation.

A full list is in the governor’s executive order or see below. 

The order says other businesses may continue to stay open so long as their employees are working remotely from their homes.

Although Pritzker ordered bars and restaurants to stop all dine-in options Monday, residents will still be able to pick up food from restaurants.

Transportation services and roadways will also remain open. The governor said he’s relying on residents to self-police the stay-at-home order.

Pritzker also called for a temporary halt to evictions to allow residents to remain in their homes. The governor said the decision was not made lightly.

“I fully recognize that in some cases, I am choosing between saving people’s lives and saving people’s livelihoods,” Pritzker said at his daily news briefing Friday. “But ultimately, you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have your life.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the governor tried to dispel rumors about harsher restrictions and reassure the public that the measures are temporary.

Dr. Emily Landon, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago who spoke at the Friday briefing, said the order will help Illinoisans take the pandemic more seriously.

“This virus is unforgiving,” Landon said. “It spreads before you even know you’ve caught it and it tricks you into believing that it’s nothing more than a little influenza.”

Landon said social distancing is the best tool the public can use to stay safe, since a vaccine has not been developed yet.


The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which represents thousands of stores around the state, supports the measure, calling it “measured and thoughtful” in a news release.

“We continue to urge consumers to be patient and avoid hoarding as there is plenty for all if everyone exercises calm and restraint,” said association head Rob Karr.

Meanwhile, the president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Todd Maisch, said in a news release the chamber hoped the stay-at-home order would be a “last resort” and there’d be more time to repair.

“We are very concerned about the families who are going to lose their stability, their paychecks and their jobs,” Maisch said. “This is an incredibly important public health issue that requires strong action, but we need equally aggressive action to ease the economic burden that will be carried by all Illinoisans in the coming weeks."

The governor's exeuctive order included a list of "essential businesses" to stay open. Healthcare and public health operations, human services operations, essential government functions and essential infrastructure top the list.

It also includes the following. 

Groceries and Medicine

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Certified farmer’s markets
  • Farm and produce stands
  • Supermarkets
  • Convenience stores
  • Other establishments selling groceries

Food, Beverage, Cannabis Production and Agriculture

  • Food and beverage manufacturing, production and cultivation including farming; livestock; fishing; baking; and marketing, production, distribution of animals/goods for consumption
  • Licensed medical/adult-use cannabis dispensaries
  • Licensed cannabis cultivation centers
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter and other necessities of life for animals, including shelters, rescues, kennels and adoption facilities.

Organizations that Provide Charitable and Social Services

  • Food Banks
  • Shelter
  • Organizations that provide social services or other “necessities of life for economically disadvantaged/need individuals/disabled individuals


  • Newspapers
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Other media services

Gas Stations and Businesses Needed for Transportations

  • Gas Stations
  • Auto Supply/Repair Shops
  • Bicycle Shops

Financial Institutions

  • Banks
  • Currency Exchanges
  • Consumer Lenders, including payday lenders; pawnbrokers; consumer installment lenders; sales finance lenders; credit unions; appraisers; title companies; financial markets and other financial institutions; entities that issue bonds

Hardware and Supply Stores

  • Hardware Stores
  • Businesses that sell electrical, plumbing or heating material

Critical Trades

  • Building/Construction Tradespeople
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Exterminators
  • Cleaning or janitorial staff for commercial or governmental properties
  • Security
  • Operating engineers
  • HVAC
  • Painting
  • Moving/Relocation services
  • Service providers maintaining a clean workplace

Mail, Post, Shipping, Logistics, Delivery, and Pickup

  • Post Offices
  • Businesses that provide shipping or delivery services

Educational Institutions (For distance learning only)

Laundry Services

  • Laundromats
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Industrial Laundry Services
  • Laundry Service Providers

Restaurants (For consumption off-site only)

Supplies to Work From Home

  • Businesses selling, manufacturing, or supplying products needed for people to work from home

Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations

  • Businesses selling, manufacturing, or supplying computers, audio/visual electronics, household items, paint, glass, among other supplies.
  • Firearm/ammunition suppliers and retailers


  • Airlines
  • Taxis
  • Transportation Network Providers, including Uber and Lyft
  • Vehicle Rental Services
  • Paratransit
  • Other Private/Public/Commercial Transportation/Logistics for Essential Businesses/Operations

Home-Based Care and Services

  • Home-Based Care for adults, seniors, children, and individuals with developmental disabilities, substance abuse disorders or mental illness.
  • Caregivers, including nannies
  • Meal Delivery

Residential Facilities/Shelters

  • Residential Facilities/Shelters for adults, seniors, children, and individuals with developmental disabilities, substance abuse disorders or mental illness.

Professional Services

  • Legal Services
  • Accounting Services
  • Insurance Services
  • Real Estate Services including appraisal/title services

Day Care Centers For Employees Exempted by Executive Order

Manufacturing, Distribution and Supply Chain For Critical Products and Industries

  • Manufacturing companies/distributors/supply chain companies producing or supplying essential products or services including: pharmaceuticals; technology; biotechnology; healthcare; chemicals or sanitization; waste pickup or disposal; agriculture; food/beverage; transportation; energy; steel or steel products; petroleum or fuel; mining; construction; national defense; communications; or other products used by essential businesses.

Critical Labor Union Functions

  • Administration of Health/Welfare Funds
  • Remote personnel checking on wellbeing/safety of members providing essential businesses or operations

Hotels and Motels

  • Hotels/Motels used for lodging or delivery/carryout food services

Funeral Services

  • Funerals
  • Mortuaries
  • Cremations
  • Burials
  • Cemeteries
  • Related services

Mary Hansen contributed to this reporting.

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Mike Smith is the graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legisltive session.
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