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To see what America truly looks like, look no further than Illinois. From dense urban areas to vast stretches of farmland—from world-sustaining factories to world-famous architecture—the state stands as a reflection of our nation’s history, diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s no surprise that the workforce safety and compliance concerns that impact employers throughout the United States are highly concentrated in Illinois. Given the region’s climate and large number of industrial and agricultural operations, there’s no shortage of rules and regulations governing how people and businesses work. Discover tools, resources, and strategies for keeping your employees safe and your organization out of trouble

Illinois COVID-19 State Regulations

Below is a round-up of COVID-19 state regulations for employers navigating how to operate safely during the pandemic. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.


Illinois begins to reopen with a 5-phased plan. Executive Order 2020-32 was issued to require safety and hygiene measures for essential and non-essential employers. For example, essential retail stores are required to provide employees with face coverings. The Order also required all residents who can safely wear a face covering to do so whenever in public.

On May 1, 2020, start parks began to reopen with social distancing and safety and hygiene requirements. On May 5, 2020, Restore Illinois, the phased reopening plan, was released.

Executive Order 2020-38 announced the Phase III reopening for the state and outlines the health requirements for individuals, businesses, retail stores, manufacturers, office buildings, restaurants and bars, gyms, personal service facilities, youth sports, and public amusement. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

Update 9/22/20: Small Gathering Social Safety Tips released.

Update 7/6/20: Executive Order 2020-43 was issued to move the state to Phase IV of reopening.

Update 6/26/20: Illinois is moving to Phase IV of reopening. Businesses like movie theaters, museums, zoos, fitness centers, and indoor dining services may reopen at 25% capacity, provided health and safety requirements are met. Gatherings of up to 50 people are acceptable.

Additional Resources

Phase IV Guidelines Overview

Phase III Business Toolkit

Restore Illinois Website

Restore Illinois A Public Approach to Safely Reopen Our State (Phase 3 and 4)

Executive Orders

Guidelines to Safely Reopen Additional Businesses and Industries (Phase IV Press Release)

Updated Statewide Model, Regional Metrics for Restore Illinois Health Regions (Press Release)

Face Covering Mandate

Executive Order 2020-43 includes language regarding face coverings. Anyone over 2 years of age must wear a face covering in indoor and outdoor public places, where social distancing requirements can’t be maintained.

All employers must ensure that employees are wearing face coverings when social distancing requirements can’t be maintained. Businesses must encourage customers to wear face coverings

Additional Resources

Executive Order 2020-43

FAQ for Businesses Concerning Use of Face-Coverings During COVID-19

Illinois Executive Orders

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: Illinois employers and employees

When: March 21, 2020 to April 7, 2020


Governor J.B. Pritzker has issued an Executive Order for all Illinois residents to stay at home except for “essential activities.” These activities include:

  • Health and safety-related tasks, like seeing care from a health care professional or getting medications.
  • Caring for others, like a family member or pet, in another house.
  • Supplies and services like groceries, office supplies or other household goods.
  • Outdoor activities that are kept at physical distance from others like walking. Playgrounds, however, are closed.
  • Essential businesses and operations

Essential businesses and operations may remain open, and employees may travel to work. The list of essential businesses includes:

  • Health care facilities like hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, biotechnology companies, etc.;
  • Grocery stores or any store that sells food;
  • Restaurants may stay open for food delivery and carryout services only;
  • Transportation businesses like taxis, ride-sharing, and airlines as long as they’re used for an essential activity;
  • Banks and finance;
  • Professional services like law firms, real estate, insurance;
  • Childcare facilities;
  • Essential infrastructure like construction, public infrastructure, waste management, airports, utilities, public transportation, and telecommunication providers;
  • First responders;
  • Charitable and social services;
  • Media;
  • Residential facilities or group homes;
  • Food, beverage, and marijuana production;
  • Business supply stores to facilitate working from home or essential businesses; and
  • Other businesses like delivery services, gas stations, auto-repair business, laundromats, dry cleaners, hardware and supply stores, office supplies, home repair services, and funeral services.

Non-essential businesses must stop all activities except for “minimum basic operations.” Employees can still report to work for these minimum basic operations, but must maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet apart, wash hands with soap or use hand sanitizer frequently, cover coughs and sneezes into their elbows and not hands, refrain from shaking hands, and frequently clean high touch surfaces. These “minimum basic operations” include:

  • Maintaining inventory;
  • Ensuring security when processing payroll and other employee benefits;
  • Preserving the condition of the workplace and equipment; and
  • Performing activities that facilitate employees teleworking.


  • Determine whether your business is considered essential. Assess your current workforce for who may be able to work remotely or is essential to be onsite.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resources

Executive Order

State of Illinois Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Stay at Home FAQs

Download the Illinois COVID-19
Operations Checklist

This checklist reviews the steps to create a thoughtful COVID-19 operating strategy
Download Now

The Latest Illinois Articles

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