Illinois Government Responses to Covid-19 Updated 5/26/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- Amendments to the Illinois Supreme Court Rules
- New industry-specific guidelines for Phase 3
- Cook County Jail’s response to the spread of COVID-19 among inmates and officers
- The Illinois Supreme Court has issued amended Supreme Court Rules that allow civil or criminal proceedings to occur by telephone or video conferences. The rule states, “[t]he court may, upon request or on its own order, allow a case participant to participate in a civil or criminal matter remotely, including by telephone or video conference.” Additionally, the court has also amended Rule 241 on the use of video conference technology in civil matters. Previously, such use was limited to “good cause in compelling circumstances.” The amended rule allows participation in a civil trial or evidentiary hearing by video conferencing without showing “compelling circumstances.” The new rule and amendments to existing rules are meant to broaden the ability of Illinois courts to permit remote appearances without meeting a heightened threshold to justify the remote appearance.
- The Illinois Supreme Court has issued a temporary order regarding evictions. Advocates for tenants and landlords support the provisions in the order to prevent improper evictions for the duration of the pandemic, which are consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). (The CARES Act prohibits landlords from filing eviction actions for nonpayment from tenants who live in properties that are part of any federal housing program or have federal mortgage loans.) The order outlines the CARES Act provisions landlords are to follow when filing a complaint for eviction or an affidavit that the property at issue does not fall under the CARES Act provisions. However, if a landlord is unaware of this change or forgets to comply with this requirement, the order also allows for testimony on whether the property falls under the CARES Act.
- Governor Pritzker has announced industry-specific guidelines as the state moves into Phase 3 of reopening this week. These guidelines are for manufacturing facilities, health and fitness centers, offices, personal care services, retail, outdoor recreation, service counters, day camps, youth sports, and restaurants and bars. For example, retail businesses are allowed to operate at a maximum of 50% or 5 customers per 1,000 square feet while asking customers to wear face coverings. Restaurants and bars, on the other hand, have a 6-person-per-party limit and should ask customers if they are currently showing any COVID-19 symptoms before allowing them to enter. All employers are encouraged to continue to allow employees to work from home, if possible.
- The Illinois General Assembly finished its special session over the weekend, sending many bills to Governor Pritzker’s desk. Below is a brief summary of some of the legislation it passed related to the COVID-19 outbreak:
- House Bill 2682 allows to-go cocktails as restaurants reopen.
- Senate Bill 2135 creates the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission, which will develop plans to revive the state’s economy.
- Senate Bill 471 changes the crime for attacking a retail merchant during a public health emergency from battery to aggravated battery.
- In addition, lawmakers approved a state budget plan that relies heavily on funding from the federal government and the progressive income tax measure on the November ballot.