Starting Saturday evening, Illinois should feel quieter than usual, but not like a total ghost state.
Everyone is encouraged to stay inside as much as possible under an executive order issued by Gov. J.B. Pritkzer on Friday in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Pritzker’s mandate says that “all individuals currently living within the State of Illinois are ordered to stay at home or at their place of residence” from 5 p.m. Saturday through April 7, “except as allowed.”
There are a lot of allowances.
You can still go to the store. Get gas. Walk the dog. Take a stroll through the park. Wash your clothes at a laundromat.
You can even visit a restaurant – though only to pick up a takeout order.
Just do it all while keeping at least 6 feet away from other people.
While the order calls for nonessential businesses to shutter for the next few weeks, there’s an exception for a lot of occupations. Health care workers and emergency responders, for sure. But also: media folks, bankers, lawyers, accountants and Uber and Lyft drivers. Hardware stores can stay open, as can hotels, marijuana dispensaries, post offices, and shipping and office supply stores. And funeral homes.
Which is to say, there is no need to rush out for groceries in preparation for doomsday. Both the governor and the state retailers association are actively discouraging hoarding.
Pritzker says it’s not a lockdown, and it’s not martial law – it’s an order intended to slow the spread of the contagious virus in order to save lives. While he says law enforcement could take action – like a cease-and-desist order, and refusing to listen to a police officers’ request to go inside could lead someone to be charged with a misdemeanor for reckless conduct – he hopes it doesn’t come to that, and that people will understand the importance of compliance.
So far, Illinois has seen 585 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and five deaths. Across the state, 4,286 people have so far been tested for the virus.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump got testy with reporters during his daily COVID-19 briefing Friday. He also announced border restrictions with Mexico, and that he had invoked the Defense Production Act to speed manufacturing of supplies like masks and ventilators.