While amending it a bit, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced an extension of his executive order for Illinois residents throughout the state to shelter in place until May 30 this afternoon.

Pritzker made the announcement during his daily press briefing on the state’s effort to combat the spread of Novel Coronavirus at roughly 2:30 p.m. The original shelter in place order, requiring state residents to stay in their homes aside from essential travel, was issued on March 20 and was set to expire on April 30.

“We now have what we didn’t have two months ago,” said Pritzker, “an understanding of what COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations and ventilators and ICU usage look like every day in Illinois.”

While the executive order was extended by Pritzker, the governor did announce several modifications to said order, effective May 1. Those alterations included:

–– the reopening of Illinois state parks in phases according to a plan by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating will be limited to groups of two people, while golf courses will be allowed to operate with social distancing guidelines in place.

–– an extension of essential businesses to include animal grooming services, greenhouses and garden centers and nurseries. Social distancing guidelines must be adhered to in these facilities, and both employees and customers will be required to wear face coverings.

–– allowing retail stores not currently considered essential to re-open in order to fulfill telephone and online order deliveries, as well as curbside service.

–– the resumption of surgical centers and hospitals to resume some elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions, provided they meet certain criteria as set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

–– giving school districts permission to allow the pick-up of necessary supplies and belongings of students, with college dormitory move-outs being required to follow social distancing guidelines.

–– requiring face coverings at every indoor public location and in any other public place where at least six-feet of distance cannot be maintained. This requirement applies to everyone over the age of two.

– requiring essential businesses and manufacturers to provide face coverings to all employees unable to maintain six feet of separation between one another. Occupancy requirements, staggering shifts and operating only manufacturing lines deemed essential will also be required of said businesses and manufacturers.

Pritzker stated that these amendments to his executive order could be rescinded if people do not adhere to the changes.

“These changes are what the data says that we can offer the people of Illinois without risking so much viral transmission that our hospitals will potentially become overrun,” he said. “That said, if we start to see crowds and people violating the order or breaking the rules, I will need to bring back these restrictions.

“I’m hopeful that we will not need to do that.”

The governor stated that he was not requesting local law enforcement agencies to treat violations of the face covering requirement as criminal offenses.

“We’re not encouraging local law enforcement officers to arrest people, or take drastic action” Pritzker noted. “People should be wearing a mask, and they should be reminded of that if they’re not.”

It was also acknowledged by the governor that some regions of Illinois have been less affected by the virus outbreak than others. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t present in those communities, according to Pritzker.

“I realize that in some parts of the state we have fewer people who have tested positive and fewer people who have passed away,” he said. “But that does not mean that it is not in your county or your town.”

The governor fielded a second question about the prospect of opening up some portions of the state that have seen fewer cases of COVID-19.

“I’m not sure how to answer that, except, this virus knows no boundaries, folks,” answered Pritzker in respond to a question regarding the lifting of the quarantine for areas outside of Cook County and the surrounding area. “No one is immune from this virus, no matter where you live.

“We are trying to take into account the differences in population density in one area of the state versus another, and you’re seeing the in the modifications to the executive order that we put out today.”