All Illinois residents are under a mandatory Stay-At-Home Order issued by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last Friday.

Governor’s Executive Order 2020-10 requires all residents to stay in their homes to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. This order prohibits visiting friends, holding gatherings of any size and closes all nonessential businesses, including most retail, recreation and entertainment facilities. The order, which took effect on March 21, does not shut down essential businesses or services.

What are essential services? The list includes pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, police and fire stations, healthcare operations, garbage or other sanitation collection, public transportation, and hotlines for public services like Medicaid. Another category of essential businesses are laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers. Some government offices will remain open, but many recommend citizens use the phone or internet to conduct business or receive services.

Carry-out and drive-thru and delivery services can be offered by groceries as well under the current order. Schools or charities can provide free food services to students only on a pick-up and take-home basis. All schools have been closed since March 16 in Illinois. Two days later, all dine-in restaurants and bars were ordered closed across the state. Churches are also complying with the latest order to prevent spread of the virus.

This latest drastic step is deemed necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois. Other states have issued similar orders. The number of cases has grown several times in two weeks across Illinois and that total is expected to rise as more testing is conducted. By staying at home, you are reducing the risk to your family, neighbors and people very vulnerable to this deadly virus. Your compliance with the order can save lives.

Essential jobs -- ranging from healthcare providers, grocery store clerks to first responders – are vital to the state during this health emergency. If you have been designated essential by your employer, you should continue to go to work and practice social distancing. If you believe your business is nonessential but are still being asked to show up to work, you may discuss it with your employer.

Unless you work for an essential business or are doing an essential activity, you should stay home. Work from home is encouraged where possible. Law enforcement officers will not stop residents who are on their way to or from work or who are out for necessities like going to the pharmacy or getting groceries, or just taking a walk.

“A lot of this is about commonsense,” said Newton Police Chief Mike Swick. “We’re not going to be looking for violations on patrol, but we might check out a situation if it is obvious people are not being compliant. We realize people need to relieve some stress by getting out and walking or taking out the dog. If people have questions, they can check our police department Facebook Page. We just had a question this morning about having people help a family with moving. That will not be a problem.”

“We’re willing to work with people during this. We are discouraging large gatherings. We’re not telling people they can’t go out to get what they need. If you want to meet then consider other options by conducting a meeting by phone,” Jasper County Sheriff Brandon Francis said. He added questions on the COVID-19 order can be forwarded to his department at (618) 783-8477.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or are currently in isolation, you should stay at home. If you are feeling sick, call your doctor, a nurse hotline, any telehealth hotline set up specifically for COVID-19 (check with your insurance company) or an urgent care center. Do not go to an emergency room unless necessary. Nonessential medical care like eye exams and teeth-cleaning should be postponed.

The order allows visits to family members or friends who need medical or other essential assistance, such as ensuring an adequate supply of food. Seeking medical care for pets is allowed if they require it.

State Operated Developmental Centers, Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Community Integrated Living Arrangements will continue to provide care. All in-home direct care staff are considered essential staff and should continue to support individuals in the home setting. Arrangements are also being made for the homeless in Illinois.

If it is not safe for you to remain home, you are able and urged to find another safe place to stay during this order. Please reach out so authorities can help. You may call the domestic violence hotline at 1-877-863-6338 or contact your local law enforcement.

All essential workers under the Order, can take children to a day care that is licensed on an emergency basis for the purpose of childcare for essential workers. Licensed day care homes for up to 12 children will be closed but may reopen as an unlicensed day care home for up to 6 children.

State parks will be closed during the Stay at Home Order. Families can still visit local parks and outdoor spaces that remain open, and take a walk, run, or bike ride but should continue to practice social distancing from other people. Remember that playgrounds are closed because they pose a high risk of increasing transmission of the virus.

Road closures have not been planned. Public transportation and ridesharing should be used for essential travel only. When possible, walk or drive yourself. Planes and any other forms of travel should only be used for essential purposes.