On Sunday, May 24, Governor JB Pritzker announced the industry-specific guidelines governing the re-opening of businesses in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan. He said on many occasions during the prior week that the guidelines were forthcoming. He has reiterated on many occasions that all four regions of the State are on track to move to Phase 3 this coming Friday.

In Phase 3, businesses in the following industries may reopen subject to the new guidelines: retail, offices, manufacturing, barbershops and salons, summer programs, various outdoor recreation activities and bars and restaurants for outdoor dining.

The new guidelines are posted on the website of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and are available here. There are a separate set of guidelines and tool kits for manufacturing, offices, retail stores, service centers, youth and sports, health and fitness centers, personal care service, outdoor recreation, day camps, and restaurants and bars (outdoor dining and drinking).   https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/pages/restoreILP3.aspx

The toolkits includes signage, training checklists and other resources to help business owners and workers implement the new guidelines.

“In every aspect of our pandemic response, and especially as we begin to safely reopen meaningful swaths of our economy, our number one priority must be the health and safety of our workers, our customers, and Illinoisans at large,” said Gov. Pritzker in a prepared statement. “The industry-specific baseline guidance for businesses the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity released today will help employers re-open their doors in Phase 3 in line with that priority. In order to cover as many unique aspects of industry as possible, my administration collected input from hundreds of industry participants across the State and these guidelines reflect the questions and ideas brought to us by businesses of every size, background, and region in the state – and prioritize public health as our guiding light. You can’t build a strong economy if people aren’t comfortable being a part of it.” 

Phase 3 of Restore Illinois is expected to bring approximately 700,000 Illinoisans back to the workplace, a key step towards getting the Illinois economy back on track—with an estimated 20 percent, or $150 billion in annual GDP, of the overall economy returned to operations, said the Governor.

In addition to industry-specific guidelines, DCEO and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) developed a common set of standards all businesses must follow. Those standards include the required use of face coverings, social distancing, and informational signage on site, among other preventative measures.

Guidelines Applicable to Retail Stores

As an example of the types of things covered in the guidelines, some of the guidelines applicable to retail stores are summarized below. The Retail Guidelines apply to “customer-facing stores engaged in retailing merchandise and service, which includes, without limitation, grocery stores, hardware stores, clothing stores, pharmacies, department stores, and shopping malls.

The “minimum” guidelines for retail stores include:

  • There is a maximum of 50% of store capacity or 5 customers allowed per 1000 sq. ft. of retail space
  • The retailer should display signage at the entry of the store with face covering requirements, social distancing guidelines, and cleaning protocol
  • Employees should wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when within 6-ft. of others (cloth masks preferred).
  • A social distance of at least 6-ft. should be maintained between non-household individuals
  • Employees should not report to, or be allowed to remain at work if sick or they exhibit any COVID-19 identified symptom
  • The retailer should have a temperature check available for employees and conduct in-person screening of employees upon entry into the workplace and mid-shift screening to verify no presence of COVID-19 symptoms
  • The retailer should provide hand washing capability or sanitizer to employees and, if applicable, customers
  • The retailer should clean and disinfect common areas (e.g., restrooms, cafeterias) and surfaces which are touched by multiple people (e.g., entry/exit doorknobs, stair railings) frequently; every 2 hours recommended for high-traffic area
  • Customers may not bring in reusable shopping bags and must bag their own goods.

    The following guidelines are included as “encouraged best practices:”

  • Display visual markers 6 feet apart at customer queue points
  • If practical, install impermeable barrier between employee and customer at checkout
  • If practical, implement touchless transactions
  • Disinfect keypads and self-checkout stations after every transaction
  • Disinfect shopping carts and baskets after every use.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...