Illinois governor orders residents to 'shelter-in-place' starting Saturday

(Reuters) - Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on Friday all state residents to “shelter-in-place” starting Saturday evening in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

All non-essential businesses are to close indefinitely, with exceptions for hospitals, doctors offices and grocery stores.

“To avoid the loss of tens of thousands of lives we must order an immediate shelter-in-place,” the governor said, using a term that has usually referred to mass shootings.

The Illinois clampdown follows similar orders in California and New York. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he also planned to shut down all but essential businesses in the state within the next 24 hours.

Pritzker said the order does not mean people cannot go outside at all, but they are to stay home unless it is essential to go to grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ office, gasoline stations, or other essential places.

Pritzker called it a very difficult choice and said in the short-term it likely cost some people jobs.

“Ultimately, you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have a life,” he said.

The governor also said the scheduled date for all public schools in the state to reopen has been indefinitely postponed.

“I want to be honest with you,” he said. “We don’t know yet all the steps that we’re going to have to take.”

Reporting by Rich McKay; editing by Bill Tarrant, Chris Reese and Leslie Adler