Businesses that defy stay-at-home order to face misdemeanor

May 17, 2020 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Businesses defying Illinois Gov. 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. Now, a violation is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, according to WTTW-TV.

The change took effect Friday when the rules were filed. 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.


Pritzker administration general counsel Ann Spillane described the charge as “very mild, like a traffic ticket.”

“Nobody’s getting arrested or handcuffed,′ she said. “But they are getting a citation where they would have to go to court.”

Top Republicans blasted the move.

“These rules are a legal overreach and beyond the scope of the governor’s authority,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement Sunday. “It will be a dark day in Illinois when we charge small businesses with a jailable crime for salvaging their livelihoods.”

Health officials reported 1,734 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday and 51 deaths. Overall, there have been 94,191 cases and 4,177 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older people and those with existing health conditions, it can cause severe symptoms and lead to death.