Illinois Threatens Jail Time For Business Owners Who Defy Coronavirus Lockdown Restrictions

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker filed an emergency order that could lead to criminal charges for business owners that defy the state’s stay-at-home order, NBC Chicago reports.

The order includes a rule that could allow for business owners who reopen in defiance of the state’s restrictions to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail in a fine of up to $2,500.

An attorney for Pritzker said the rule was “very mild.”

“It’s like a traffic ticket,” the attorney said. “Nobody’s getting arrested or handcuffed, but they are getting a citation where they would have to go to court.”

Pritzker previously suggested that businesses could face liability from insurance companies if they defy the state’s order.

He has also threatened to revoke liquor licenses and withhold aid funds to those violating the order.

Republicans push back:

“These rules are a legal overreach and beyond the scope of the governor’s authority,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement.

“It will be a dark day in Illinois when we charge small businesses with a jailable crime for salvaging their livelihoods," he added.

Some sheriffs refuse to enforce:

Some sheriffs in the state said they would refuse to enforce the governor’s order. Sheriffs in Kane, Kendall, and Grundy counties have said they will not fine or arrest people that defy the state’s restrictions.

“This is not a time to test law enforcement or challenge the governor’s direction with blatant and egregious activity that may be harmful to society,” said Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain. “It is a time to view this as a global health concern and to act in the best interest of your fellow citizens.”

“It is clear that deputies do not have immunity if they attempt to enforce the orders and there is no legislated law that applies to the violation of the orders,” Hain said in a statement.


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