How associations should deal with COVID-19
Q: What is the impact on associations of Gov. Pritzker's most recent extension of his original stay-at-home order?
A: On March 20, Pritzker issued his original "stay-at-home" executive order for all residents of Illinois. The purpose of that order was to try to slow down, but not necessarily stop, the spread of COVID-19. There are, and continue to be, numerous exceptions to the "stay-at-home" order.
The original order went into effect March 21 and was previously extended through the end of April. On April 30, the governor signed a new executive order to extend and modify the "stay-at-home" law through the end of May.
The new rules include various modifications to the original order. Let me highlight the provisions of the new executive order that impact operations of condominium and common interest community associations.
Any individual who is over age 2 and able to medically tolerate a face covering (a mask or cloth covering) is required to cover their nose and mouth when in a public place and when unable to maintain a 6-foot social distance. Face coverings are also required in public indoor spaces such as stores. In an abundance of caution, associations should consider this applicable to the use of common areas of the association, such as hallways, lobbies and elevators, for example. Therefore, people in common areas should generally be required to wear a face covering if they are unable to maintain a 6-foot social distance.
Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products must be readily available for employees. In an abundance of caution, associations should consider this applicable to employees of the association.
The new executive order still permits association/management staff to leave home to perform building management and maintenance and other services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operations of the condominium/common interest community association. This should include, for example, those managing the office and janitorial, garage and valet services, and door staff and the like. The order also permits an association's contractors to continue with maintenance, repair and replacement projects that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operations of the residences.
Projects performed by an owner or by an owner's contractor are still also permitted within a unit, to the extent that the projects are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operations of the residence.
Moving and relocation services are also permitted as critical trades under the executive order. Note, too, residents may continue to have dog walkers and housekeepers.
Any contractors working at the building should be following social distancing requirements. For purposes of the executive order, this includes maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.
Real estate showings of vacant or owner-occupied units are permitted if necessary and scheduled in advance (virtual showings are preferred) but limited to no more than four people. Open houses are prohibited.
Time will tell if the stay-at-home order is further extended. If and when it is, we can certainly expect that social distancing requirements will, to some degree, remain in effect.
• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in the Chicago suburbs. Send questions for the column to him at CondoTalk@ksnlaw.com. The firm provides legal service to condominium, townhouse, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives. This column is not a substitute for consultation with legal counsel.