Coronavirus Illinois: How state, local police will enforce Pritzker's 'stay-at-home' order

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC 7 I-Team looked into what Governor JB Pritzker's "stay-at-home" order means and how an Illinois governor is legally allowed to make such a sweeping order.

READ: Gov. Pritzker's official 'stay-at-home' order

In a major health emergency, state law allows any governor to do just about anything he wants to ensure public safety. Now, Illinois State Police, Chicago police and local departments across the state are preparing to enforce the order.

WATCH: Gov. JB Pritzker announces 'stay-at-home' order amid COVID-19
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Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued a "stay-at-home" order for all Illinois residents Friday afternoon in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the state.



"No one's going to be chasing you down the block to arrest you," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.

Dart told the I-Team Friday night that law enforcement will be more interested in businesses violating the state shutdown edict, serving cease and desist notices prepared this week by Illinois State Police and provided to local departments. The one-time warnings to businesses that stay open would be followed by potential criminal charges if they ignored police. All of this is possible under two state laws authorizing Gov. Pritzker to put Illinois residents under a stay-at-home order.

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"We've seen it happen in times of war," said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer. "We've seen it during the Civil War, we've seen it during World War II. And the government simply has the authority to take extreme measures that would otherwise not be permissible."

While the governor has activated National Guard units to play a role in this healthcare crisis, he reiterated Friday it isn't a law enforcement role.

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On Friday, the I-Team found dozens of National Guard vehicles at the ready on a west suburban armory lot. Visible from Chopper 7, many were marked as medical with red crosses, not military police.

"There have been a lot of rumors circulating around that are completely inaccurate," Pritzker said Friday. "Rumors that there's martial law that's going to imposed, that we've called out the Guard or the military somehow to impose their will upon the state of Illinois. Those are all false."

Chicago police have canceled days off in anticipation of Saturday's shelter-at-home deadline. In some districts, CPD is assigning extra patrols around food stores.

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