Chicago Implements 'Stay-at-Home' Order Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

The order comes days after the city launched a new color-coded travel advisory for out-of-state travelers. 

lion statue with a mask in front of the Art Institute of Chicago
The lion statue in front of the Art Institute of Chicago is seen wearing a mask. . Photo: Xinhua News Agency/Getty

Days after Chicago implemented a color-coded travel advisory system for visitors, the city issued a stay at home order for residents amid surging cases of COVID-19.

The advisory, entitled "Protect Chicago," calls for Chicagoans to only leave their homes for work, school, or essential needs including groceries or medical care. The advisory will go into effect on Monday, Nov. 16, and last for at least 30 days, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Thursday.

At a press conference, Lightfoot also encouraged residents to not travel for Thanksgiving as both indoor and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people.

"You must cancel normal Thanksgiving plans, particularly if they include guests that do not live in your immediate household," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a press conference, according to ABC Chicago. "No visitors should be in your home unless they're essential workers, like home healthcare or education workers."

States besides Illinois have been designated a color — red, orange, or yellow — based on its current COVID-19 infection rates. Travelers coming to Chicago from yellow states are urged to avoid nonessential travel but are not required to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test. Travelers from orange states must either choose a 14-day quarantine or a pre-arrival COVID-19 test when visiting Chicago. And travelers from red states are subject to a 14-day quarantine, which they cannot opt-out of.

Travelers coming from orange states who wish to opt-out of a 14-day quarantine must provide the results of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of their arrival to Chicago.

States with fewer than 15 daily cases per 100,000 people are classified as yellow. Orange states have infection rates from 15 to 60 daily cases (or Chicago’s current rate) per 100,000 people. And orange states have infection rates higher than 60 per 100,000 people. The states’ ratings are reassessed every two weeks and will be adjusted if needed, based on Chicago’s per capita infection rate.

The order applies to Chicago residents both returning from these states and residents traveling to Chicago. Those who are found violating their quarantine are subject to a fine from $100 to $500 per day, up to a total of $7,000. However, the order will not apply to people just passing through Chicago, like those catching a connecting flight.

“By creating a tiered system and using Chicago’s case rate as a category threshold, it allows us to be responsive to the changing dynamics of the pandemic,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “This measure is a response to increased rates of COVID-19 transmission in Chicago and across the nation, and it sets up measures to mitigate transmission in our city.”

Arwady reiterated that people should avoid travel and only cross state lines if essential.

Only six states currently have a yellow rating: California, New York, Hawaii, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Twelve states currently have a red rating and must quarantine upon arrival in Chicago. The remainder (31) falls into the yellow category.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram, or at

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