| Firm News
Illinois Government Responses to Covid-19 Updated 9/10/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- State being approved to participate in Lost Wage Assistance Program
- Region 4’s restrictions being increased
- Chicago’s continuing COVID-19 responses, including business closures, travel order, and Teachers’ Union actions
- Undergraduates at Urbana-Champaign’s U of I campus being put on lockdown
- Court of Appeals upholding Governor’s right to limit size of gatherings
- State Supreme Court issuing orders on court appearances, fees, and summonses
- The State of Illinois finally applied and was approved for additional federal unemployment benefits under the Lost Wage Assistance Program. [This program authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to spend no more than $44 billion in payments.] Illinois was one of the last states to apply for the funding and is now warning residents that funding is limited and could have a “self-life” of three weeks, depending on available funding after that.
- Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced mitigation changes for Region 4, which has been seeing a consistent rise in COVID-19 cases. These mitigation efforts include closing indoor services for bars and restaurants, closing outdoor bar and dining services at 11:00 p.m., limiting gatherings, and requiring casinos to close at 11:00 p.m.
- Chicago continues to add and remove states from its travel order list as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in various parts of the country. Last Tuesday Chicago added Hawaii, Nebraska, and North Carolina to its list, and more states, including Indiana, could be added this week.
- Due to the ongoing pandemic, Chicago’s Navy Pier is now shut down until spring. The Pier, which was previously shut down from March through June, had reopened but was operating at limited capacity, which ultimately prompted officials to suspend operations. While a COVID-19 vaccine could lead to a reassessment of this decision, an exact date for the Pier’s reopening is unknown.
- Chicago continues to close businesses found to be in violation of COVID-19 reopening guidelines. Places such as the J&L Lounge, Grota Banquets and Catering, The Family Den, Dirty Doz Motorcycle Club, and B’z Sports Bar & Grill have been closed for violating various guidelines (e.g., failing to enforce social distancing, operating after midnight, and violating masking guidelines). All of the businesses are issued citations, closed for one night, and allowed to reopen the next day. The enforcement team continues to investigate businesses as the pandemic continues.
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has reported rising numbers in positive COVID-19 cases on campus, leading to a two-week lockdown for undergraduates. Students on campus are asked to limit gatherings, maintain social distancing, and continue wearing masks in an effort to prevent further spread. An e-mail sent out by the university’s administrators stated emphatically: “We stay together. Or we go home.” The e-mail gives students two weeks to show that guidelines can be followed and numbers maintained or the school will reconsider in-person learning for the remainder of the semester.
- A hearing on Wednesday determined that the Chicago Teachers’ Union’s request to allow school clerks to start working from home will be denied and instead heard at a more formal hearing before an administrative law judge. The Union filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging that Chicago Public Schools did not “bargain in good faith before sending school clerks and other employees back into buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic” under what they consider to be unsafe conditions.
- The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals released an order last week rejecting the Illinois Republican Party’s request for a preliminary injunction against Governor Pritzker’s order limiting social gatherings. The order states that “free exercise of religion enjoys express constitutional protection, and the Governor was entitled to carve out some room for religion, even while he declined to do so for other activities.” However, the order also is clear that “[s]hould the Governor begin picking and choosing among [various] groups. . . he would either have to impose the 50-person limit on all of them, or on none of them.”
- The Illinois Supreme Court issued a temporary order limiting in-person court appearances and further promoting virtual appearances. In addition, the order also addresses waiving various court fees and new language required in all summonses issued in civil cases. The order is currently in effect and will remain in effect until further notice.