Chamber Members:

Here are updates for Friday, March 20th. We shared earlier the information and link to the application for a Small Business Administration loan. Here it is again: . We awaited the much rumored announcement of a “shelter in place” directive and now we have that information to share.

Governor Pritzker today ordered state residents not involved in “essential” activities to stay home for at least the next two weeks while health officials seek to get a handle on the COVID-19 epidemic. The official order is attached to this message.

Thank you to Representative Larry Walsh Jr. for sharing so quickly. He and his office will be available to answer any specific questions that you may have as they look to be helpful in any way possible. You can reach them at

Here are the key details on the order:

  • The order will take effect at 5 pm. tomorrow (Saturday, March 21, 2020), and last until April 7
  • People will be allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries, gas up the car, visit the doctor or the bank and, in most cases, to go to their jobs
  • The order will require all non-essential businesses to close. That means most non-food retail outlets except for restaurants, which will be allowed to continue to deliver and pick-up services. People who can work from home “must” do so, Pritzker said.
  • Public transportation will remain open, though on reduced schedules. Residents can go outside for a walk, but should keep at least six feet away from others.

Governor Pritzker announced yesterday that small and mid-sized bars and restaurants will get a two-month delay in when they have to pass on sales taxes to the state.

The sales tax deferral specifically will apply to 24,000 small- and mid-sized bars and restaurants, those that paid less than $75,000 in sales taxes last year. Such establishments still will have to file returns for March, April and May, but will be allowed to withhold payment without interest or penalty, providing they make the payments in four chunks spread from May 20 to Aug. 20. Four out of five bars and restaurants statewide will benefit from the deal, officials said. Penalties and interest will be automatically waived; however, qualified taxpayers must still file their sales tax return even if they are unable to make a payment. For more information, please view IDOR’s informational bulletin available at

According to Crain’s: Unemployment claims have risen to 64,000 over three days in the state, compared to 6,074 in the same period a year ago. A loss of 64,000 jobs in three days exceeds the total number of jobs gained by the Chicago metropolitan area in the past year.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today said that the deadline for filing tax returns is being moved from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. The Treasury Department and IRS released guidance on Wednesday that allowed individuals and corporations to defer tax payments from April 15 to July 15, but had kept the deadline to file returns at April 15.

The U.S. Chamber had sent a letter to President Trump recommending that the administration offer additional guidance on recent quarantine orders and mandatory business closures to clarify “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses and services.”

 Illinois Unemployment Insurance Update

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) put into place emergency rules to help workers impacted by the coronavirus shutdowns.  Here are emergency rules that may apply to your employees:

  • An employee who is temporarily laid off because their place of work closed due to the coronavirus is eligible for benefits as long as he or she is willing and able to return to work as soon as the workplace is reopened. The seven day waiting period and the requirement that the applicant register with the state employment service have been waived.
  • An employee who quits their job because of concern about the coronavirus or wants to stay home to take care of a child whose school is closed is not eligible for unemployment coverage unless there is another legally valid reason for the departure.
  • An employee who is confined to their home because the employee or family member has COVID-19 or because of a government required quarantine is eligible for unemployment insurance but must register with the state employment service and actively seek work that could be performed from the home.

AT&T Offers Added Relief for Customers

AT&T is planning on being here to help you stay connected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

We recognize that staying in touch with your family, friends, school and work has never been

more important.

Below are a few ways we’re helping consumers, small businesses, and enterprises across the country.

Consistent with FCC Chairman Pai’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” announced today and concerns raised by members of Congress, which we share, AT&T is proud to support our customers by pledging that, for the next 60 days, we will:

  1. Not terminate the service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer because of their inability to pay their bill due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. Waive any late payment fees that any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer may incur because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. Keep our public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any American who needs them.

To provide further relief and support, AT&T announced:

  • Unlimited AT&T Home Internet – All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers, as

well as Fixed Wireless Internet, can use unlimited internet data. Additionally, we’ll continue

to offer internet access for qualifying limited income households at $10 a month through

our Access from AT&T program.

  • Helping You Work and Learn Remotely – Businesses, universities and schools can keep

their teams and classrooms connected through conference calls and video conferencing

with Cisco Webex Meetings with AT&T for 90-days, and seamlessly forward calls to both

mobile and landline phones with AT&T IP Flexible Reach.

  • Distance Learning – AT&T is underwriting expenses for a “one-stop” resource center to

support eLearning Days from the State Educational Technology Directors Association

(SETDA) available to all educators in schools to help them handle school closures and the

increase in virtual learning due to COVID-19.

We anticipate much more information to continue coming through during this time and pledge to keep you updated as soon as possible.

Stay well,

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors