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9 things you might not know about the Illinois ‘stay-at-home’ order

Chicago skyline from above
Photograph: Kevin Young/Unsplash

On Saturday, March 21, the Illinois "stay-at-home" order went into effect, requiring all state residents to remain in their homes as much as possible through April 7. While the order won't keep you cooped up inside for the next few weeks (you can still go outdoors to exercise, walk your dog, grab groceries or pick up take out), there are some obvious grey areas. Thankfully, the City of Chicago released an extensive "stay-at-home" order FAQ over the weekend, which cleared up a few of the questions we've been hearing repeatedly. We combed through the entire FAQ and picked out some of the most pertinent information.

1. How is the city enforcing the "stay-at-home" order?

The city's FAQ is somewhat vague about enforcement, stating that "the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department will assist in enforcing this order." It does go out of its way to note that, contrary to social media rumors, the National Guard is not enforcing the order. As long as you're leaving the house to exercise, get groceries or go to work, there's likely no need to worry about being stopped by the police—according to the city, "the intention of this order is not penalize individuals but to keep everyone safe during the pandemic."

2. Can I still move into a new house/apartment?

Moving and relocation services have been deemed essential services, so it's safe to say that you can go ahead with your move (even if you're not hiring any help). Naturally, you'll probably need to take some precautions during the move, including maintaining a six-foot berth from anyone helping you schlep your belongings and taking extra time to clean and disinfect your new residence.

3. What if I need a home repair? Can I still call a handyman?

No need to worry! Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, HVAC specialists, painters and any "service providers that maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences" have been deemed essential services. While you'll need to take precautions when inviting someone into your home, you should absolutely give someone a call if your sink springs a leak. Plus, home-improvement stores like Home Depot and Menards are still open if you need some DIY supplies.

4. Can I still buy recreational weed?

Technically, yes—because Illinois dispensaries sell medical cannabis, they remain open as an essential service. But while dispensaries might have the ability to sell recreational products, most are reserving their stock for medical customers. MOCA in Logan Square, Dispensary 33 in Uptown and NuMed near Goose Island are among the Chicago dispensaries that have cut off adult-use sales and are selling exclusively to medical customers for the time being.

5. Is the CTA going to shut down?

Nope. Because many healthcare workers and first responders rely on public transportation to get them to and from their jobs, the city is keeping the trains and buses running.

6. Can I call an Uber or Lyft? Can I hail a taxi? Can I take a Divvy for a spin?

Rideshare services, taxis and Divvy are continuing to operate under the "stay-at-home" order, but the city stipulates that they should only be used for essential travel. If you're able to walk or drive yourself somewhere, that's preferable to sharing a car with someone else or renting a communal bike.

7. Is it still okay to catch a flight from O'Hare or Midway?

Both of Chicago's airports remain open, though they're obviously not operating as many flights as usual. Air travel within the U.S. is currently permissible, but the city's guidelines stipulate that "planes and any other form of travel should only be used for essential purposes."

8. Are public parks in Chicago closed?

Chicago Park District field houses and playgrounds are currently closed through April 7, but all of Chicago's best parks are still open to visitors. So stay away from the swing sets, jungle gyms and indoor spaces in your local park (that includes the public bathrooms, so make sure to pee before you leave), but feel free to enjoy a stroll through the urban nature—just make sure you're practicing social distancing while you're out and about.

9. Will this all be over when the "stay-at-home" order expires on April 7?

Not necessarily. If the Governor decides to reissue the Disaster Proclamation that put the "stay-at-home" order into effect, the order could be extended. Rest assured, we'll keep you posted.

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