At least nine people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and the Department of Public Health reported 1,049 confirmed cases as of March 22, 2020. (Only 105 cases had been identified just one week ago.) To combat the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker enacted Executive Order 2020-10, which requires all Illinoisans to stay at home, except to perform essential activities. Effective on March 21, 2020, the order also requires citizens to implement social distancing, prohibits nonessential social gatherings, and mandates the closure of all nonessential establishments, including most retail, recreation, and entertainment businesses. Like numerous other states, Illinois has declared a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19, and the governor has activated the National Guard to address the anticipated need for logistical and medical support.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security has adopted emergency rules allowing individuals who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 to more easily qualify for unemployment insurance, provided the worker can work and is “actively seeking work.” Under the emergency rules, an individual whose employer temporarily closed is considered to be “actively seeking work” as long as the worker is able and available to return to work when the business reopens. Workers that are temporarily unemployed for other reasons related to COVID-19—including being diagnosed with coronavirus, caring for a spouse, parent, or child that has been diagnosed with coronavirus, staying home with a child who can no longer attend school or daycare, or observing a government-imposed or recommended quarantine–must still register with the state employment service, be available to work, and “actively seek” remote work to qualify for benefits. Examples of qualifying remote work provided by the IDES include transcribing, data entry, and virtual assistant services. The emergency rules also waive the standard seven-day waiting period, allowing employees to apply for benefits immediately after termination.

Like many other states, Illinois has closed schools, restaurants, and bars. Beginning March 16, 2020, Illinois implemented a statewide school closure for at least two weeks. Further, all Illinois bars and restaurants are closed to dine-in customers. In an effort to alleviate the financial impact this order will have on businesses, Governor Pritzker directed the Department of Revenue to defer sales tax payments for approximately 24,000 small- to medium-sized bars and restaurants, which account for nearly 80 percent of all bars and restaurants throughout the state. Under this directive, Illinois restaurants and bars that incurred less than $75,000 in sales tax liabilities last year will not be charged penalties or interest for sales tax payments that would otherwise be due for payments made in March, April, or May.

Finally, Governor Pritzker recently announced that he filed for a federal waiver to expand Medicaid coverage for illnesses related to COVID-19. On March 19, 2020, the Governor signed an executive order expanding telemedicine for individuals with Medicaid and private insurance.

If you have any questions about these measures, please contact Constangy’s St. Louis Office.

Please be aware that substantial changes in the governmental guidance and underlying laws are occurring on almost a daily basis, which will impact the analysis of the legal issues related to COVID-19. It is critical that you check the Resource Center often for the most recent information and stay in continual contact with your Constangy attorney.

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