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Here’s what Pritzker’s ‘stay-at-home’ order means for Illinois

Read remarks from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot outlining the specifics of the “stay-at-home” order that aims to stop the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides an update on Illinois’ coronavirus response Saturday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides an update on Illinois’ coronavirus response Saturday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “stay-at-home” order is in effect for everyone in Illinois through April 7 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Yes, you can go outside and pick up mail at the post office (while practicing social distancing).

And no, there won’t be martial law or any militia members blocking highway exits.

The governor laid out the details of what the order will mean for Illinoisans in a news conference Friday. “Essential businesses,” including grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices, hospitals and gas stations will continue to operate.

“Agriculture and the press, veterinarians and plumbers, laundromats and banks, roads, bridges and transit — the fundamental building blocks that keep our society safe and steady — will not be closing down,” Pritzker said. “Healthcare workers, first responders, law enforcement officers and individuals and organizations like the Illinois AFL-CIO” will continue to work.

The state will provide daycare to essential workers as schools continue to be closed. Pritzker said the tentative reopening date for schools statewide has been pushed back to April 8.

For non-essential workers, “we’re ordering municipalities across the state to halt all evictions,” Pritzker said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot echoed Pritzker’s remarks about the necessity of the “stay-at-home” measure and detailed specifics on what will and will not continue to operate in Chicago. “Hospitals will continue to treat patients, the city’s essential services will not cease, the CTA will run, airports will be open, and your garbage will be collected,” Lightfoot said, but parks and libraries across the city will be closed “for the duration of this order” starting at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Pritzker implored Illinoisans to heed these restrictions “to be good members of their communities, and good citizens,” and Lightfoot emphasized that the move “is not a lockdown or martial law.” But Pritzker said he has “instructed law enforcement to monitor for violations and take action when necessary.”

Transcriptions of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s key remarks from the ‘stay-at-home’ briefing:

What will not change

Here’s what will stay the same: You’ll still be able to leave your house to go to the grocery store to get food. You’ll still be able to visit a pharmacy, go to a medical office, or hospital, or to gas up your car at a gas station. You’ll still be able to go running, and hiking and walk your dog. Many, many people will still go to work. For the vast majority of you already taking precautions, your lives will not change very much.

There is absolutely no need to rush out to a grocery store or a gas station. On Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday, and every day thereafter, those will be available to you.

“Essential businesses” that will continue to operate

Agriculture and the press, veterinarians and plumbers, laundromats and banks, roads, bridges and transit — the fundamental building blocks that keep our society safe and steady — will not be closing down.

You can still pick up dinner from your local restaurant, pick up your prescriptions and just spend time with your family. We are doing all we can to maintain as much normalcy as possible while taking the steps that we must to protect you.

What will change

That brings me to what will change: All non-essential businesses must stop operating. If you can work from home and aren’t already doing so, now is the time when you must.

The heroes of this moment — health care workers, first responders, law enforcement officers and individuals and organizations like the Illinois AFL-CIO, and other workers who keep you grocery stores and pharmacies running — cannot stay home. We need you.

This executive order is fundamentally about the rest of us, and what we can do to support the people on the front lines of this fight, and the people most vulnerable to its consequences. We know this will be hard, and we’re looking at every tool that we have to help you through this crisis.

State resources for essential and furloughed workers

For our essential workers, we’re going to make sure you have safe daycare to take care of your children while you do the critical work to save us and to keep us safe. To those that we are asking to stay home, we’re ordering municipalities across the state to halt all evictions. We need our local leaders to help ensure our families do not lose their homes. I’m also directing additional resources to organizations across the state to serve those experiencing homelessness.

When schools will reopen

For our students, your school districts will continue to provide you with meals, and we will back them up in this. I wish I could stand up here and tell you when your schools will safely reopen, but that is not an answer that I have at this time. We’re postponing our tentative reopening date statewide until April 8 and will continue to update you with new information as we have it.

Possible police enforcement action

To be honest, we don’t have the resources, the capacity or the desire to police every individual’s behavior. Enforcement comes in many forms, and our first and best option is to rely on Illinoisans to be good members of their communities, and good citizens, working together to keep each other safe.

I have instructed law enforcement to monitor for violations and take action when necessary, but that is not an option that anyone prefers.

The easy thing to say today is that soon everything will go back to the way it was — but I want to be honest with you about that too. We don’t know yet all the steps we’re going to have to take to get this virus under control.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also shared Chicago-specific updates. Excerpts of her remarks:

What the city is doing

Our city, in the absence of leadership from the federal government, frankly, is doing the following: finalizing securing quarantine and isolation locations; bolstering hospital capacity; supporting our health care workers and first responders, and doing everything possible to relieve the pressure on them; and building a supply change to make sure that critical equipment to the healthcare system — things like ventilators, PPEs, and other important supplies — are available and given to areas of need.

We will continue to identify residents who are sick, and ensure they receive the treatment and resources they so rightfully deserve, and put them on a path to recovery, as has happened, already, with many.

Our healthcare workers have been at the forefront of this pandemic. They are working around the clock and putting their own health on the line to keep those who need it most. That means we as a city must do everything we can to help them.

Now is not the time for half measures, but preventative and proactive plans — ones rooted in science and data — and to mitigate the spread, and ultimately to save lives. And let’s be clear: This has to be a two-way street.

While the responsibility of the government is to build a plan, your personal responsibility is to take all necessary precautions to keep yourself safe and formally include an order to stay at home.

‘This is not a lockdown or martial law’

So many Chicagoans have already heeded our calls to stay home, and have been practicing social distancing. For those residents, today’s announcement won’t drastically change the day-to-day changes you’ve already taken. But while many have listened, some have not. And it’s clear that the time is now for us to be very definitive in telling people that you must stay home.

The governor already explained what this order is and what it requires from each of us, and I want to say, and to be clear, this is not a lockdown or martial law. As the governor said, and I want to reiterate, Chicago’s grocery stores, pharmacies and clinics will remain open. And there’s absolutely no need to change your normal purchasing patterns. What I mean is: Do not take this direction as a reason to run to the stores, buy everything in sight, and hoard vital supplies. Please: The grocery stores will stay open and stock. So be mindful of your neighbors, and do not hoard supplies.

What will and will not close in Chicago

Hospitals will continue to treat patients, the city’s essential services will not cease, the CTA will run, airports will be open, and your garbage will be collected. And yes, you can still go outside for a walk, but practice social distancing. Remember: This is the new normal, for now. . . .

I also want to announce, in light of this order, we will be closing fully Chicago parks and libraries for the duration of this order. Some of these facilities may be repurposed to help support some other essential services by third parties, but effective tomorrow, at 5 p.m., all city parks and libraries will be closed.

This is a make-or-break moment for our city and our state. Never in our lifetime has our own health been so intertwined with the health of every single person with whom we interact. Neighbors, coworkers, loved ones, front-line workers: please realize your responsibility to them, and continue to take care of yourself.