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Alerts and Updates

Illinois Imposes New Restrictions Following Surge in COVID-19 Cases

November 20, 2020

Illinois Imposes New Restrictions Following Surge in COVID-19 Cases

November 20, 2020

Read below

State officials will reevaluate the mitigation plan based on various metrics such as infection positivity and hospital capacity rates during each 14-day monitoring period.

On November 17, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a new statewide resurgence mitigation plan to help combat the recent surge of COVID-19 positivity rates throughout the state. The new Tier 3 resurgence mitigation restrictions impact most businesses and are effective November 20, 2020.

The new requirements follow a series of regional Tier 1 and Tier 2 restrictions implemented by the governor’s executive orders beginning in early October. The Tier 1 and Tier 2 restrictions primarily limited large gatherings and placed additional limitations on restaurants and bars, including the prohibition of indoor dining. The Tier 3 resurgence mitigation requirements include more restrictions than the reopening standards under which Illinois businesses have been operating since the state issued its Restore Illinois Phase 4 guidance in June 2020.

The governor intends the Tier 3 resurgence mitigation plan to encourage more people to stay home to the greatest extent possible, while including flexibility and guidance for some industries to remain open at reduced capacities. These mitigation requirements will remain in place statewide for at least 14 days. State officials will reevaluate the mitigation plan based on various metrics such as infection positivity and hospital capacity rates during each 14-day monitoring period. The governor intends to announce any changes to the mitigation tiers or restrictions on a regional basis.  

The limited state guidance published on the new Tier 3 restrictions includes new limitations or prohibitions for meetings, gatherings and recreational activities and additional updated, industry-specific guidance for many businesses. With the exception of youth sports, schools and child care facilities are directed to continue following prior operating guidance.

Local governments maintain the authority to retain limitations that are stricter than those in place statewide. Illinois businesses should therefore consult local public health agencies or municipal orders for continued updates.

The additional Tier 3 resurgence mitigation requirements go beyond prior reopening restrictions as follows:

Bars and Restaurants, Private Clubs and Country Clubs

All indoor service is prohibited and all bars, restaurants and facilities where food and/or alcohol are served must close between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Takeout and delivery services may continue during operating hours, but no standing or seating should take place while ordering or waiting for an order inside. Outdoor service is permitted with reservations required, with tables that maintain 6-foot distancing and seat no more than six people.

Health, Fitness and Sports Activity Centers

In addition to the social distancing requirements in Phase 4 guidance, face coverings are now required at all times. Locker rooms must be closed and indoor group classes or practices are prohibited. All indoor group sporting or recreational activities are paused. Indoor health and fitness club operations are limited to 25 percent of room capacity, with reservations required. Outdoor sport practices are limited to 10 persons or less. Individual athletic or sport training is permitted with reservations. 


Hotel room occupancy is limited to registered guests, with the maximum number being that allowed by the fire code. All event and meeting spaces are closed. Fitness centers must follow the industry restrictions.

Indoor Recreation, Theaters and Cultural Institutions

All indoor recreation including casinos, bowling alleys, movie theaters, amusement centers, museums, aquariums and performing arts centers must close. Outdoor recreation can continue at no more than 25 percent capacity, with advance reservations required. 


Manufacturing facilities face a number of heightened safety protocol requirements under the Tier 3 restrictions, including mandatory face coverings (only exceptions are while eating/drinking and for safety purposes), station sanitization at the beginning and end of each shift and additional workstation realignment where feasible. Additional employee COVID-19 safety training is required, even if this Phase 4 reopening requirement was previously satisfied. Employers should stagger and space shifts and designate shift entrances and exits where possible to minimize interactions of employees across unique shift groupings. 

Entry to facilities is limited to manufacturing staff and key personnel. Nonproduction employees must work remotely. Nonessential staff and visitors are not permitted, with exemptions only for critical equipment repairs, supply deliveries and safety reasons. Businesses must suspend COVID-related incentive pay and promote staying home for employees who are sick or showing symptoms. To assist with this, temporary leave policies to accommodate workers who are sick must be implemented. Employers that operate employee commuting vehicles face additional requirements.

Meetings, Gatherings and Social Events

All meetings rooms or party rooms of any type are closed for gatherings. In-home gatherings are limited to household members. Party buses are prohibited. 


All employees who can work remotely should do so.

Retail and Service

All retail shops (including general merchandise and “big box” stores that offer both groceries and merchandise) can operate at no more than 25 percent capacity. Grocery stores and pharmacies are limited to 50 percent capacity. Retailers should promote delivery or curbside delivery and efficient trips and consistent circulation of customers during in-store shopping.

Personal Care Services

Services are permitted only when a face covering can be worn (if not possible, services are suspended). Operations are limited to the lesser of 25 clients or 25 percent capacity. Physical, occupation or massage therapy are permitted when deemed necessary by a healthcare provider, but appointments must be at least 15 minutes apart and facilities must be sanitized with clean air circulation through service areas after each service.

Other Industries

Industries not identified above or in the Phase 4 reopening guidance are encouraged to take proactive steps to support these new resurgence mitigation strategies. All industries should limit customer service functions to 25 percent capacity, maximize remote work wherever possible and follow the retail mitigation requirements above. 

We expect state agencies to issue additional Tier 3 resurgence mitigation information in the coming days, and Duane Morris will continue to provide analysis and insights through our Alerts.

About Duane Morris

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert or have specific questions and concerns related to your operations, please contact Daniel O. Canales, Jennifer Long, Jamie E. Brown, any of the attorneys in our Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.