Businesses defying Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order could face a misdemeanor under emergency rules his administration has filed.
Pritzker’s order requires businesses to remain closed with few exceptions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Because it’s classified as “emergency” in nature, the rule change took effect as soon as it was filed Friday. Legislators on a bipartisan oversight committee have the chance to review it Wednesday. If they don’t reject it, the rules remain in effect for 150 days. Eight of the 12 members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules would have to vote to reject it.
In a statement released yesterday, House Republican leader Jim Durkin called the rule a legal overreach and beyond the governor’s scope of authority. Durkin said it would be a dark day in the state to charge business owners with a crime for trying to salvage their livelihood.
The Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of $75 or up to $2500.
Members of Pritzker’s cabinet described it as a new and gentler “tool” that law enforcement can use to keep businesses closed during the coronavirus pandemic – and therefore keep people safe– that’s less severe than other options, like closure orders or stripping establishments of their liquor licenses. Pritzker Administration officials told the Illinois Associated Press that many State’s Attorneys from around the state have requested a similar type of rule.
Pritzker attorney Ann Spillane says there is no threat of jail time or arrest for the violation. The rule is directed at business owners and not employees.
Police and local state’s attorneys will continue to have discretion on whether they charge a business with a misdemeanor. The Illinois State Police are also allowed to enforce the rule.
The state is slated to move into Phase 3 of Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan at the end of the month, which would allow non-essential businesses, including hair salons and spas, to reopen with capacity limitations and safety procedures in place.
Restaurants and bars would not be allowed to open to dine-in service until Phase Four of the plan, which currently can’t go into effect until at least June 26th.