Last updated: June 24, 2020

goodFAQ: Illinois phase III COVID-19 reopening

Required lawyer disclaimer: This is not legal advice. (Duh.) This information is intended to be an overview of guidance relating to Illinois Phase III reopening of offices that have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and does not comprehensively address all the applicable issues relating to it. Please contact us using the short form on the left side of this page if you wish to receive legal advice. We are here to help you navigate this unprecedented, disruptive period.

Q.            What are the legal rules for reopening?

A.            Federal, state, and local governments have issued rules for phase III office reopening. The below chart includes highlights of the various requirements. Federal rules are guidance, not legal requirements. State and local authorities have not made it clear whether their rules constitute legal requirements or merely guidance. Neither Illinois nor Chicago have fully published guidance on the remaining phases. For brevity, we have not listed duplicate guidance in the below chart.

  EntityPublicationHighlights
FederalCenter for Disease Control (CDC)Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting • Wash surfaces with soap and water throughout the workday
Use suggested disinfectants
• Wear gloves whenever cleaning
• Practice social distancing
FederalOccupational Safety and Hazard Act (OSHA)Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 • Promote frequent handwashing
• Consider flexible workstations and schedules
• Communicate details about COVID-19 to employees including instructions for hygiene and social distancing
• Encourage employees to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
State of IllinoisIllinois Department of Commerce and Economic OpportunityRestore Illinois Office Guidelines (Phase 3) • Continue to allow employees to work from home if possible
• Require face coverings when employees are within 6 feet of each other
• Provide at least 6 feet of space between workstations
• Reduce maximum office occupancy to 50%
City of ChicagoBe Safe ChicagoReopening Chicago Portal • Complete the city’s optional self-certification
• Separate workspaces with impermeable barriers
• Close high-traffic common areas
• Provide sanitation stations to employees, contractors, and customers

Q.            Will an employer be liable if an employee becomes ill after working in the office?

A.            It would be difficult for an employee to prove that the employer’s acts or omissions resulted in the employee contracting COVID-19. Nonetheless, following as many guidelines as reasonably possible could provide a defense or reduce damages if an employee sues.

Q.            What should we do if an employee gets COVID-19?

A.            You should send the employee home immediately, clean and sanitize work areas, and provide employee paid sick leave as required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. You should also notify employees that another employee has contracted COVID-19. You can provide details such as which area of the office the person worked in as long as revealing the information does not directly identify the person. You should not disclose the person’s identity or other confidential information.

Q.            Should we do contact tracing in our workplace?

A.            There is no requirement to do so. Contact tracing could be helpful when you are attempting to suppress the spread of COVID-19 among your workforce. Keeping records, such as schedules, could be helpful if local health officials request your help with contact tracing.


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