Chicago Coronavirus

Chicago Travel Order: What You Need to Know

The order is similar to ones in New York and New Jersey, both of which are also asking visitors from certain states to quarantine themselves for two weeks

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Chicago issued an emergency travel order Thursday directing anyone entering or returning to Chicago from 15 states in the U.S. to quarantine for 14 days as coronavirus cases across the country surge.

The order is similar to ones in New York and New Jersey, both of which are also asking visitors from certain states to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Here's what you know need to know:

When does it take effect and how long will it last?

The order took effect at 12:01 a.m. on July 6 and remains in effect until further notice.

Which states are included?

States included in the initial order were: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

Since then, the city added Iowa and Oklahoma to its list, which took effect on July 17.

On July 21, Kansas was added to the list, effective July 24.

Could the list of states change?

According the city's health department, the list of states will be reviewed for potential changes every Tuesday. That review began on July 14.

How are the states determined?

"A state will be designated if it has a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average," the city said in a statement.

Is it just for Chicago?

Cook County issued similar guidance on July 17. The Cook County Department of Public Health issued emergency travel guidance directing travelers from the same list of states to quarantine for 14 days.

The DuPage County Health Department is also encouraging anyone who travels out of Illinois to quarantine to 14 days, but it stopped short of issuing an emergency order like the one that began in Chicago.

Who will be required to quarantine?

The health department states the order includes "both Chicago residents returning from travel to a designated state, and travelers arriving in Chicago from a designated state."

"Anyone traveling from a designated state is directed to self-quarantine for a 14-day period or the duration of their time in Chicago, whichever is shorter," according to the order.

Are there exceptions?


“Essential workers” will not be required to quarantine if:

  • They are not a resident of Chicago, but are traveling from a designated state for to carry out "primary work in Chicago, and who needs to be physically present in Chicago in order to carry out that primary work." The worker's employer will need to certify their visit in writing.
  • If they are a resident of Chicago, but were in the designated state "for the primary purpose of carrying out primary work in that state, and who needed to be physically present in that state in order to carry out that primary work." This will also need to be certified in writing by the worker's employer.

Exceptions may also be made for personal travel for medical care and parental shared custody. 

What are the consequences for violating the order?

Those who violate the order could face fines of $100 - $500 per day, up to $7,000.

How will the order be enforced?

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Friday the city won't necessarily be tracking every traveler in the state.

"We really are asking people primarily to do the right thing here," she said.

She noted that while the city won't be pulling over people with out-of-state plates or creating a list of travelers, the order is aimed at discouraging non-essential travel.

"We tried to balance here the ability to keep the really essential things going but send a strong message to individuals and to businesses that unless there is an essential reason to travel now is not the time to do it," Arwady said.

No specifics were detailed on how the city will notify those found in violation.

What does it mean to quarantine?

According to the city, quarantine "means staying at a single designated home or dwelling for 14 days before doing any activities outside of the home or dwelling."

Those under quarantine should separate themselves from others as much as possible and check themselves for symptoms.

Other requirements, as noted by the city, include:

  • The individual must not be in public or otherwise leave the dwelling that they have identified as suitable for their quarantine, unless seeking medical care or COVID-19 testing.
  • If seeking medical care or testing, or when traveling to or from the airport, train station, or bus station (if applicable), a face covering must be worn and public transportation must not be used.
  • Food and other needed supplies must be delivered to the individual’s dwelling; the individual may not leave the premises to acquire supplies.
  • The traveling individual or family group should be situated in separate quarters with a separate bedroom and, if possible, separate bathroom facility from non-traveling household members.
  • The individual must self-monitor for symptoms potentially consistent with COVID-19. If any symptoms develop, the individual may leave the dwelling to receive testing for COVID-19 but then must return to complete the 14-day quarantine while isolating from other household members, regardless of the test result. A face covering must be worn while seeking testing. 

What if I don't have symptoms or if I tested negative for coronavirus?

The quarantine will be required regardless of symptoms or testing.

"Individuals can develop symptoms and become contagious up to 14 days from their last exposure," the health department states.

What if I only had a connecting flight or drove through a designated state but did not stay there?

According to the city, the order does not apply to those passing through designated states for less than 24 hours.

What if I have someone visiting me from a designated state?

The city encourages travelers to self-quarantine in the home they are traveling to in Chicago, but they should still avoid close interactions with other members of the home for the full 14 days.

"Other household members who did not travel from a designated state are not required to self-quarantine," the order states.

What about international travel?

The order is for domestic travel only.

"Travelers coming from international locations are not covered by this Order and should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines," the city said.

What if you work in Chicago but don't live there?

Those who work in Chicago and who traveled for work-related purposes can still commute to the city but should limit their movements to work-related activity, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Friday.

"Some of this will be dependent on if the travel was for work or pleasure," Arwady said.

For those who traveled for pleasure, they would still be subject to the order, Arwady said.

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