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Illinois Government Responses to Covid-19 Updated 8/27/2020

Today’s update discusses:

  • Bar/restaurant patrons being required to wear face coverings
  • Stricter restrictions being imposed on Region 7
  • License renewals being extended for over 75 age group
  • Mortgage assistance and small-business programs being launched
  • Chicago’s travel order continuing
  • Chicago businesses being closed for violating safety guidelines
  • Chicago creating a winter outdoor dining contest
  • U of I beginning vaccine clinical trials
  • Some Chicago schools altering in-person learning status
  • New ruling on ongoing saga of prisoner housing


  • In an effort to lower the continuously rising COVID-19 cases in the state, Governor Pritzker is requiring bar and restaurant patrons to wear face coverings while interacting with servers or other employees. This rule applies to both indoor and outdoor dining. In addition to the governor’s announcement, the Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, also emphasized the importance of wearing a mask properly, covering both the mouth and nose.
  • Governor Pritzker has imposed stricter restrictions within Region 7 as COVID-19 numbers continue to climb there. Bars and restaurants in the Region, which consists of Will and Kankakee counties, are now restricted to outdoor dining only; indoor dining may resume if the region’s positivity rate declines after 14 days.
  • Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is allowing drivers over the age of 75 an extra year to renew their licenses. (For example, a resident over 75 whose license expires in September 2020 will not need to visit a facility until sometime in 2021.) White noted that he is “mindful of the heightened risks associated with seniors contracting COVID-19” and therefore has “authorized this important change during this challenging and unique time.” Drivers with licenses that have been suspended or revoked do not qualify for this extension.
  • Late last week. Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Housing Development Authority announced the launch of the Emergency Mortgage Assistance (EMA) program. The program is aimed at providing financial assistance to income-eligible families who’ve struggled to pay their mortgage due to the pandemic. The grants will cover up to $15,000 and are expected to assist about 10,000 households before the end of the year.
  • Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a $2 million investment in Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. The money will be used to help small businesses compete for contracts with local, state, and/or federal government agencies. This announcement comes as many businesses continue to face uncertainty from the ongoing pandemic.


  • Starting Friday, South Dakota is being added to Chicago’s quarantine travel order, while Arizona and North Carolina will be removed. (Wisconsin and Nebraska were removed last week.) States remaining on the travel order include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as the territory of Puerto Rico.
  • Chicago recently closed four businesses—La Roccia, Hyde Park Cigars, M and M Beauty Services, and Granero—for violating its COVID-19 safety guidelines. The various citations issued included operating after midnight, violating social distancing and masking guidelines, and operating over capacity outdoors. Each business was permitted to re-open the following day, but the task force will continue to monitor for any further violations.
  • Chicago officials have launched a “Winter Dining Challenge.” The contest is an effort to find creative ways to continue outdoor dining this winter in the midst of a likely ongoing pandemic. Ideas must be safe for both employees and customers. Winning ideas are eligible for cash prizes.
  • The University of Illinois began clinical trials this week on a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The study plans to test at least 30,000 people; half will receive the vaccine, and half will receive a placebo. The groups will then be monitored for two years. However, the chief of infectious diseases at the university’s Department of Medicine stated that “if enough data can be collected before the two years are up … it could be approved and go to market before the end of the study, potentially even before the year is out.”


  • Originally, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) charged about $15,000 per school year for its public prekindergarten. However, parents started withdrawing from the program when it was announced that it would be held remotely until at least November and that in-person daycare options would not be available. CPS is now discounting the cost by 50% during remote learning.
  • Loyola Academy, a private Catholic High School in Wilmette, switched back to on-line classes one week after reopening. Six students tested positive and 63 students were quarantined for exposure, travel, or symptoms. None of the cases have been linked to in-person attendance at the school, but it has highlighted the threat of exposure while being off campus.


  • As previously updated, the fight between local sheriffs and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) continues. Earlier this month, a Logan County judge ruled that IDOC did not have the authority to deny acceptance of a committed person. Now, the Fourth Appellate District has issued its own temporary injunction, ruling that the governor has the authority to “control. . . the movement of persons.” The court order is focused only on the authority of the governor’s actions, making clear it does “not pass judgment on whether the governor’s actions are unwise or unfair.” In the few weeks that transfers took place, IDOC reported the number of inmates who contracted the virus doubled.
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