Across the nation, some business owners fed up with their state’s stay-at-home orders have started reopening their shops without approval even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
But if you’re in Illinois, you might want to think again about taking such a stance. Governor J.B. Pritzker filed an emergency rule on Friday making it a Class A misdemeanor if business owners decide to defy the state’s stay-at-home order, which remains in effect through May, The New York Times reports.
According to the Times, the rule, which applies to businesses such as barbershops, gyms, restaurants and bars, is meant to be an “additional enforcement tool for businesses that refuse to comply with the most critical aspects of the stay-at-home order,” according to a spokesperson for Pritzker.
In Illinois, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail or up to a $2,500 fine, the Times notes.
However, Jordan Abudayyeh, the governor’s spokesperson, emphasized that charging business owners with a misdemeanor is not meant to be the go-to.
“Law enforcement has relied heavily on educating business owners about the order and always first discusses the regulations with business owners to urge compliance,” she said. “Only businesses that pose a serious risk to public health and refuse to comply with health regulations would be issued a citation. The rule gives law enforcement a tool that may be more appropriate and less severe than closing the business altogether.”
Regardless, not everyone was enthused about the governor’s plan.
“The new emergency rule @GovPritzker that makes it a crime to violate his executive orders is an affront to the separation of powers,” state Sen. Dan McConchie tweeted on Sunday. “Legislatures make laws. Governors enforce them. Period.”