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Illinois businesses now face misdemeanor charges for defying state shutdown orders

“There are people who are endangering people in their own communities"
Credit: AP
FILE - In this March 30, 2020 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at the Thompson Center in Chicago during the daily update on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois businesses that reopen in defiance of the state's stay-at-home face misdemeanor charges under an emergency rule change filed last week by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Democratic governor downplayed Republican cries of government overreach, saying the act is already part of state law. He also argued that a misdmeanor is a lighter penalty than ordering businesses to shut down or suspending licenses.

“There are people who are endangering people in their own communities, and we wanted to be able to give local officials, local law enforcement the ability to do what they needed to do,” Pritzker said, according to the Tribune.

The emergency rule change Pritzker filed late last week opens business owners to a Class A misdemeanor, which under Illinois law can carry a fine of $75 to $2,500 and up to 364 days in jail, the Tribune reported. The rule targets businesses such as restaurants, bars, gyms and fitness centers, salons and barbershops, according to the Tribune.

Pritzker last week also threatened to withhold state and federal funding to counties that disobey statewide stay-at-home orders. The Madison County Board in Metro East last week voted to reopen the county effective last Wednesday, approving a resolution that outlined a four-phase reopening plan that continues through June.

Illinois is under a stay-at-home order that's in effect until at least May 30. Pritzker earlier this month announced a five-phase reopening plan for Illinois that will allow certain parts of the state to open at faster rates than other parts, given COVID-19 cases, testing and hospital availability.

Last week he announced that all five regions of the state are on track to enter the third reopening phase by the end of the month.

RELATED: Illinois announces regional approach to reopening state in phases

RELATED: Illinois to be under stay-at-home order through May, with exceptions

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