With the landscape ever-changing for businesses in 2020, it is challenging even for the most diligent company to keep up with constantly evolving government responses to COVID-19.
Must a retailer intervene when a customer refuses to wear a mask? Should a restaurant refuse service when capacity has been reached? Is an employer responsible if a worker arrives for their shift while sick?
While guidelines are fluid, the latest communication from Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health tells us that businesses are experiencing the tightest restrictions they will encounter prior to forced closure.
Governor Pritzker currently has imposed a range of mitigations on Illinois businesses, including:
* No indoor dining.
* Capacity limits for health clubs, retailers and personal service providers.
* No gatherings in party rooms, banquet halls or private clubs.
* A recommendation that employees who are able to work from home do so.
* In-person employees should have designated shift entrances and exits to minimize interaction.
Communities throughout Illinois vary in the degree to which they are enforcing these mitigations. In Rockford, the City has an enforcement team that is responsible for following up on complaints that a company is holding indoor dining or social gatherings, not following mask and social distancing requirements or occupancy limit violations.
In recent weeks, the City’s code enforcement team has visited more than 200 local businesses. They found that 80 percent of those companies were in compliance with mitigation measures on the first visit.
Another 15 percent of the businesses visited were given education and guidance and were able to come into compliance immediately.
The final five percent of businesses were still not in compliance on the second visit, and were issued a notice of non-compliance or an order to disperse. Of those, two businesses were issued a notice to appear in an administrative hearing for repeated violations and could face a fine of up to $750 per offense.
A key component to remember during these times is that COVID mitigations are mostly enforced on a local level. The mitigations ultimately enforced on your business are most probably going to come from your city or other municipality. The approach to enforcement could change from the neighboring municipality, so it’s important to do research in your community. The best place to start when looking for COVID-related rules is City or Village Hall, followed by the health department that has jurisdiction over your property.
Whether you need assistance from our Employment/Labor Group to revisit employee policies or advice from our Business/Corporate Group to assess your risk, the attorneys at WilliamsMcCarthy LLP are here to help you and your business navigate these uncharted and ever-changing waters.