This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, the Act's General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Illinois' retail businesses and restaurants particularly hard. Not only have restaurants had to stop indoor dining for significant periods, but it is estimated that the virus could force the closing of up to 21,700 restaurants in the state, making reopening that much more important for the industry and individual restaurants. To get a sense of COVID's impact on the retail sector, it is estimated that a record 25,000 retail locations will close in this country in 2020 as a result of the virus' impact, emphasizing the need to support as many retail shops as possible that can reopen.

To help ensure that small and midsize restaurants and retail locations, from brick-and-mortar clothing stores to our local convenience stores or pharmacies, in Illinois get fully back to work, each one must do everything it can to both protect their employees and ensure the health and safety of their visitors. COVID-19 issues specific to small and midsized retail businesses and restaurants that must be addressed include:

  1. Social distancing between employees and visitors
  2. Inability to work remotely
  3. Creation of appropriate barriers between employees and visitors
  4. Disinfection of spaces that experience visitor traffic
  5. Appropriate use of PPE for employees
  6. Ensuring employees are properly and consistently screened for COVID-19 symptoms
  7. Creation of staggered shift policies
  8. Posting of appropriate signs to educate employees and visitors on proper behavior and social distancing

The Illinois Department of Labor wants to help Illinois' small and midsize restaurants and retail locations operate safely and effectively to ensure the revitalization of the state's economy. If you operate a restaurant or retail location in our state with 250 or fewer employees and would like to schedule a free, confidential health and safety consultation to review your operation and identify best practices for your business, please click here.

The Illinois Department of Labor also offers a COVID-19 Back to Business digital self-certification. This online tutorial will guide you through essential measures and best practices designed to get your business operating safely and effectively. Click here for more information on our self-certification.