Travelers Prepare To Self-Quarantine: Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order Begins Monday

O'Hare Airport
Photo credit WBBM Newsradio/Rob Hart

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- If you’re returning from a holiday vacation in a state that’s a coronavirus hotspot, keep in mind Chicago’s new quarantine order took effect Monday morning. The order applies to Chicago only - not the rest of the state.

Under the order, announced Thursday, people coming into Chicago from 15 states that have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases should self-quarantine for two weeks. It applies to travelers entering or returning to Chicago from states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Currently that would include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

EFFECTIVE MONDAY: To preserve the gains Chicago has made, we're issuing an Emergency Travel Order directing travelers entering or returning to Chicago from states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases to quarantine for a period of 14 days. More info→

— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) July 2, 2020

A state is considered a coronavirus hot zone if it has a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, per day, over a 7-day rolling average.

The travel order covers visitors to Chicago, as well as residents, and has exceptions for people doing essential travel, such as, government or military work, medical work, or shared parental custody; as well as those who don't stay in a hotspot for more than 24 hours. The order does not affect travelers at the city's airports who land here to connect with a flight or people driving through the state. 

Individuals subject to the self-quarantine order face fines of $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000 for violations, the city said. The order is in effect until further notice, officials said.

The order only applies to those who spent over 24 hours in a designated state. It also only applies to people inside Chicago—it does not apply to other areas of Illinois.

— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) July 2, 2020

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Friday that the city's new emergency travel order is more about people doing what they can to help stop the spread of COVID-19 rather than legal enforcement.

Dr. Arwady said the city won't be tracking every traveler coming into the state, but wants people to do the right thing and watch out for the Chicago community. 

"We do not have a plan, for example, to look for out-of-state license plates to pull people over; we do not have a plan to create a list of individuals who are traveling and try to track them down," Dr. Arwady said. "Our goal is, first of all, to get this message out strongly, that's the most important thing."

Dr. Arwady said the city has come to far to not do what it can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The city said it will update the list of affected states every Tuesday starting next week. 

We'll be determining which states are covered by the order by looking at the latest public health data—particularly whether a state has a case rate growth of 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents per day. The most up-to-date list can be found at

— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) July 2, 2020

Illinois has seen one of the lowest positivity rates in the country recently, and the state's cases continue to steadily decline. On Saturday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 862 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10 additional confirmed deaths.

The latest Illinois Department of Public Health figures bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 146,612 and the death toll to 7,014