Additional reopening steps come several weeks after Illinois released a five-phase, regional plan for reopening businesses following the statewide closure of all nonessential businesses due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, a process known as Restore Illinois.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed Executive Order 2020-38 on May 29, moving the entire state of Illinois to Phase 3 of its reopening plan. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on May 28 that the city would delay moving to reopening Phase 3 until June 3, 2020.
The state is continuing the Restore Illinois reopening process with strict rules about how businesses may bring workers back to the workplace. On May 24, the state issued industry-specific requirements for expanded reopening under Phase 3. This LawFlash discusses the state government’s rules for the ongoing reopening process, including industry-specific guidance.
Restore Illinois established four health regions in the state:
As of May 29, all four regions were eligible to move to Phase 3 of Restore Illinois based on their satisfying the following metrics related to COVID-19:
Each region must continue to satisfy these metrics to move to Phase 4. Progress is monitored on a dashboard updated daily by the state.
Finally, it is important to note that regions may slow or roll back reopening measures if the metrics demonstrate an increased spread of COVID-19 as the reopening process continues.
As of May 29, most businesses became eligible to reopen subject to compliance with certain restrictions. The phased reopening gives businesses permission to reopen, but reopening is not mandatory. All businesses must comply with the requirements outlined in Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-38 and the industry-specific guidance described below.
During Phase 4 of Restore Illinois, the state anticipates reopening entertainment venues and permitting bars and restaurants to offer indoor dining. The state also anticipates reducing restrictions on manufacturing, personal care services and health clubs, and retail. We expect additional industry guidance for the fourth phase in the next few weeks.
On May 24, the State of Illinois published industry-specific detailed guidelines to assist businesses as they reopen during Phase 3 of Restore Illinois, along with a Phase 3 Business Toolkit containing checklists, posters, and signage.
While checklists and other resources available in the toolkit are helpful, the detailed industry guidelines set forth the binding minimum standards for each industry. These guidelines are designed to address the particular circumstances and operational needs of the following industries:
Although the requirements differ somewhat between industries, the following requirements apply generally across industries. The guidance is very specific, and businesses should review it in full, along with Executive Order 2020-38, and implement appropriate measures before reopening.
Any business/organization permitted to open must prominently post guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Office of the Illinois Attorney General regarding workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses looking to reopen or expand their workplaces anywhere in the State of Illinois must be aware of the state’s detailed guidelines and requirements. Businesses should be particularly mindful of guidance specific to their industry and ensure they have taken effective measures to make their workplaces are safe for employees and guests alike.
Common steps Illinois employers should implement prior to fully reopening include establishing a broad social distancing plan, creating a workplace safety plan, developing communications to employees about these plans, implementing COVID-19 symptom screening, training screeners and managers on responsible and consistent implementation of these plans, updating cleaning protocols, taking steps to reduce the number of people in the workplace, and developing protocols for when an employee is infected, including a contact tracing protocol.
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 Other cities or counties within the state of Illinois may decide to delay moving to Phase 3 or impose stricter metrics. Businesses should remain abreast of developments.
 The City of Chicago released its own industry guidelines on May 26. To the extent obligations for businesses conflict, Chicago businesses should follow the more stringent requirements.
 This LawFlash uses the generic term “reopening” to mean both reopening of closed workplaces and the expansion/worker return for workplaces that have continued to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.