As COVID-19 infection rates continue to climb in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday he would extend the state’s stay-at-home order through May 30.
Pritzker announced the extension — which includes some changes from previous orders — in a Thursday afternoon press conference. Included in the order, which will take effect May 1, was a state-wide mandate for all residents above the age of 2 to wear face coverings while visiting essential businesses. Previously, Evanston and other Chicago suburbs implemented similar orders.
“I know how badly we all want our normal lives back,” Pritzker said in the order. “But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working — and we need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job.”
The order reclassifies greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries as essential businesses. For cases when social distancing protocol isn’t possible, the order requires residents in outdoor spaces to wear masks and mandates that businesses provide masks for employees.
However, it relaxes restrictions on some outdoor activities, preparing for a phased re-opening of state parks. The order also loosens barriers to many previously limited medical treatments, such as elective surgeries.
State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) filed a lawsuit against Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday in response to Pritzker’s extension of the stay-at-home order.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in Clay County Circuit Court, Bailey said Pritzker has abused his executive authority, and is infringing on Illinois residents’ civil rights.
In a statement, Bailey said he filed the lawsuit on behalf of his constituents, who he said want a return to normalcy. In the lawsuit, he called for an “immediate review and reconsideration of legislative intent.”
As of Thursday, nearly 37,000 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois and over 1,600 have died in connection with the virus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Current projections, Pritzker’s order noted, expect the state to see the death rate associated with COVID-19 to peak or level off between late April and early May.
“If the stay at home order were lifted this week, the model anticipates a second wave of the outbreak in Illinois starting in May, which would claim tens of thousands of lives and greatly exceed the state’s hospital capacity,” the order stated.