Ask The Newsroom: CARES Act, Housing And Recreation In The Era Of COVID-19
The Illinois Newsroom team is answering questions from listeners to navigate this unprecedented time. Have a question you want answered? Ask here.
In today's edition of "Ask the Newsroom," we've answered questions on everything from the pause on evictions to DMVs remaining closed below!
Q: When will evictions be allowed?
According to the Illinois Housing Action, all evictions and utility shut-offs due to lack of payment are banned throughout the duration of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, which has been extended through the end of May.
On March 20, Pritzker issued the executive order halting all court-ordered evictions across the state.
The order came after Housing Action Illinois and NHS of Chicago called on Pritzker to support low-income homeowners and prevent foreclosures for at least 60 days.
On April 29, landlords and mortgage lenders signed a Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge to waive late fees and create written plans for tenants to pay in installments.
However, tenants who do not pay rent will still face eviction after the stay-at-home order is lifted.
Q: Will the state allow employees to take out additional loans of their own money from the deferred comp retirement fund and hold off paying the first loan as per the CARES Act?
The $2 trillion CARES Act was divided into seven parts: education, individuals, public health, state and local government, big corporations, small businesses and a safety net.
The roughly $560 billion given in individual loans was divided into subcategories, extra unemployment payments, gig workers and freelancers, tax returns and insurance coverage.
While there is no mention of a deferred comp retirement fund, NPR provides this thorough breakdown of various sections of the CARES Act.
Q: What are the requirements for restaurant workers and the use of masks and gloves? And what is the possibility of my pizza being a vessel for the virus, if it was already cooked and exposed after it is cooked?
Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde previously told Illinois Newsroom that public health requirements for food preparation include the use of gloves during food preparation but not for delivery.
With the new requirement this month that people wear cloth masks or face coverings in all public places, restaurant workers should be wearing masks, Pryde says.
Employers are expected to provide masks for employees.
In Champaign County, CU Public Health is working to collect and distribute masks for everyone working in public-facing jobs, including restaurant or grocery store workers.
Regarding whether the coronavirus can survive in food, the CDC states on their website that while it is possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly eyes, “this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.”
The FDA offers similar information and guidance on their website.
Q: My wife and I have a grandmother who is passing away soon from cancer but who lives in Colorado. Would it be legal for us to travel there in order for us to help the family?
“There’s nothing that stops a person from going to Colorado to be with a family member,” Gov. Pritzker said in response to this question at his daily news briefing. “It’s really a matter of whether you can do it safely.”
Whether someone is driving or flying, Pritzker says he encourages people to wear face coverings and consider how to travel in the safest way possible.
The CDC offers guidance on their website for how someone can stay safe if they must travel.
Golfing and Camping
Q: Explain why you can only have 2 golfers?
The extended stay-at-home order that took effect May 1st allowed golf courses to re-open with social distancing guidelines from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)—including only allowing golfers to play in groups of two.
According to Gov. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, gatherings of 10 people will only be allowed once the state reaches Phase 3. The state is currently in Phase 2 until the rate of COVID-19 infection is in decline.
In a statement, the DCEO said that “the golf guidance requires that people play in groups of two - with no exceptions to this rule. [This was] designed to ensure that residents are able to practice safe social distancing while outside participating in recreational activities and through the duration of the health order."
Q: Can private campground lease holders access their campgrounds?
Both public and private campgrounds and RV parks are considered nonessential and currently closed under the extended stay-at-home order—unless they are someone’s permanent residence. Some state parks are allowed to re-open under the new order for fishing and hiking in groups of two or less, but campgrounds, visitor centers, beaches and concessions in those state parks must remain closed.
Private campgrounds can remain open only for minimum business requirements, such as landscaping, repairs or remodeling. Gathering at campgrounds and sharing facilities “poses a risk of transmission and is inconsistent with ‘staying at home,’” according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
Q: Are any Champaign County campgrounds open?
Both public and private campgrounds, as well as RV parks, are considered nonessential and currently closed under Illinois’ extended stay-at-home order—unless they are someone’s permanent residence.
Campgrounds can only be open for minimum business requirements, such as landscaping, repairs or remodeling, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)/Illinois Secretary of State Facilities
Q: Is there any word if DMV locations will open to allow us with commercial licenses to handle business?
Currently, all Illinois Secretary of State offices and Driver Facilities are closed to the public. However, expiration dates are being extended for drivers’ licenses, ID cards, vehicle registration, and other documents and transactions. Expiration dates will be extended through the Governor’s disaster proclamation and for 90 days after. The office has not announced a reopening date, but it will likely be dictated by the Governor’s stay-at-home orders.
Those with Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) can schedule appointments at one of three locations: West Chicago, Springfield-Dirksen, or Marion. CDL Skills/Road Tests can’t be done online, and therefore CDL holders will need to call to schedule an in-person appointment at one of the three aforementioned facilities. The number to call is (217) 785-3013.
Additionally, the deadline to obtain a REAL ID has been pushed to October 1, 2021.
For more information, please see the Secretary of State COVID-19 FAQ page.