Chicago: Travelers From COVID Hotspots Must Quarantine For 14 Days

By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration said anyone traveling here from a COVID-19 hotspot in the United States must quarantine for 14 days, beginning next week.

The emergency order takes effect on Monday July 6, Chicago Public Health Commssioner Allison Arwady announced Thursday. 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.

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 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.

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

Lightfoot has been cautiously reopening Chicago after a surge of coronavirus cases earlier this year threatened to overwhelm hospitals. On Thursday, she warned bar and restaurant owners that her administration will shut down businesses that do not help enforce health directives such as social-distancing and the wearing of face masks. Her stern comments came after footage showed lax behavior in one of the city's entertainment districts. 

Chicago and Illinois generally have rebounded from a COVID-19 peak in late March-early April. Illinois has one of the lowest coronavirus "positivity" rates in the nation, even though it's the sixth-largest state. 

At a Friday press conference, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said even those who visit the peak states over the weekend and return before Monday should be careful about their interactions and pay attention to their symptoms upon returning. 

For those staying in Chicago for the holiday weekend, she encourages people to avoid large gatherings if possible. Under the Phase 4 guidelines, outdoor gatherings of 100 are permitted and groups of 50 can congregate inside, she said. 

But that should not be the default and people should still take precautions, she said, especially for those indoor gatherings. 

"For gatherings of 50 people, there is a 1 in 6 chance someone could have COVID in the group and not know it," Arwady said.