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Illinois governor adds jail time as potential penalty for business owners who defy stay-at-home order


He filed an emergency rule

Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) filed an emergency rule on Friday that allows for business owners to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for violating the state's coronavirus stay-at-home order, the New York Times reported.

Owners of businesses such as restaurants, bars, barbershops, salons, and gyms could now face a fine up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail for operating in defiance of shutdown orders implemented in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

A spokesperson for Pritzker's office told the Times that the measure was an "additional enforcement tool for businesses that refuse to comply with the most critical aspects of the stay-at-home order" and that "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," the spokeswoman, Jordan Abudayyeh, said.

Illinois has seen 94,191 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 4,177 deaths tied to the disease as of Sunday statistics provided by state health officials.

Illinois Republican state Sen. Dan McConchie issued a statement criticizing Pritzker's emergency rules change.

"The new emergency rule [from Pritzker] that makes it a crime to violate his executive orders is an affront to the separation of powers," McConchie wrote on Twitter. "Legislatures make laws. Governors enforce them. Period."

The Illinois stay-at-home order is set to expire at the end of May if it is not extended.

After a Texas hairstylist was sentenced to jail for operating her salon in violation of a judge's temporary restraining order, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott responded to outrage by retroactively revising his executive order to remove the jail time penalty.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, another governor whose state is still under strict lockdown measures, accurately described the pain the lockdowns are putting on Americans.

"I deeply understand the stress and anxiety that people have, that entire dreams have been torn asunder because of the shutdowns, their savings account depleted and their credit rating destroyed," Newsom told CNN on Sunday.

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