As the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago prepare for a phased reopening, we are winding down our regular updates on key legal developments relating to COVID-19. We greatly appreciate the comments and questions we have received on the issues addressed in our newsletters. We have experienced a great sense of community over the past three months and look forward to continuing to foster these connections in the weeks and months ahead.
Today, we close out this phase of our communications with updates on local workplace safety guidance, procurement opportunities, and court reopening plans.
In our last update, we covered the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (“DCEO”) reopening guidelines (see HERE). Today, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Chicago plans to enter Phase III and cautiously reopen on June 3, 2020 (See HERE). Lightfoot released guidelines for Chicago’s Phase III reopening earlier this week. Guidelines were issued for nine distinct industries (see HERE).
Guidelines have been issued for:
Similar to the DCEO guidelines, Chicago’s guidelines for each industry consist of a PowerPoint highlighting best practices in areas of work place safety relevant to the industry. The City also provides employee and educational resources as well as a “Business Self-Certification” tool (see HERE). The Business Self-Certification is a survey intended to inform a business as to whether it is educated on the reopening guidelines and ready to reopen. If a business is certified after taking the survey, it will receive a “self-certification badge” which it can display in its place of business. While the City encourages businesses to complete the self-certification, businesses are not required to complete the self-certification before reopening. If any guidelines present questions about your reopening plans, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
The City of Chicago has advertised a Request for Proposals for COVID-19 Response Contact Tracing Resource Coordination. Proposals are due on June 5, 2020 at 1PM. A Pre-Solicitation Conference will be held via WebEx on May 29, 2020 at 11AM. Information regarding this solicitation (No. 7475), as well as other City of Chicago solicitations, may be found HERE.
Today, Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans entered an order (see HERE) extending the date in his previous order so that most cases are postponed until July 6, 2020 or until a “further order of the court,” meaning that the date could be earlier than July 6th. See information on the Court’s website HERE. Emergency matters will continue to be heard in civil and criminal cases.
Earlier this week, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a Fourth Amended General Order 20-0012 (see HERE), effective tomorrow, May 29th. The new order does not extend any deadlines in civil cases. Matters may be scheduled by remote means with in-court appearances limited to urgent matters that cannot be conducted remotely. Civil jury trials will not be conducted before August 3, 2020. All public gatherings at the Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago and the Stanley J. Roszkowski U.S. Courthouse in Rockford are suspended until July 15, 2020.
In the meantime, as businesses turn their attention to reopening the economy, we are seeing the first in what we believe will be a series of disputes and lawsuits regarding whether performance under ongoing contracts must be continued in light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the issues being raised are whether parties can delay, modify or be excused from performing obligations under force majeure clauses in their contracts, or under common law theories like impossibility, impracticability or frustration of purpose. These issues can arise in the context of disputes involving commercial leases, financings, real estate, business and asset sales, supply and service contracts, and many other commercial relationships. Similarly, as reported in a prior update (see HERE), businesses are pursuing claims for coverage for business interruption and other losses and expenses arising from the pandemic.
We will continue to monitor developments in these areas. If you have questions about your own rights and legal options, please feel free to contact Robert Markin directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-884-5065.
We have appreciated the opportunity to serve you over the last few months by reporting on topics that may be helpful to your businesses. Going forward, we may issue more detailed articles on a less frequent basis on issues of interest to our client base and the broader professional community. If you have a particular matter that you’d like us to address or if you’d like to be removed from future distribution lists, please let us know.
Feel free to contact us with any questions. We look forward to staying in touch.
Gery Chico, Jon Leach, and Alpita Shah