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Chicago Is Fining People For Not Quarantining After Returning From Out Of State, Lightfoot Says

City officials have used social media to find people who are "flagrantly" breaking Chicago rules and not quarantining after returning from another state, the city's top doctor said.

Pedestrians walk in Humboldt Park as temperatures reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Chicago while cases of Coronavirus in Illinois continue to rise on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city has started to fine people for not following its quarantine rules after returning from other states.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday the city has started ticketing people for not following the Emergency Travel Order. The order says people coming to Chicago after spending a day or more in a state on its quarantine list must self-isolate for 14 days to prevent spreading coronavirus here.

The mayor, speaking during a press conference, said she didn’t immediately have details on the newly issued tickets, and the city has tried to educate people rather than fine them.

“Our goal, obviously, is not to penalize people but to educate them into compliance. And that’s we’re gonna continue to do vigorously,” Lightfoot said.

The fines can cost as much as $500 per day, up to $7,000.

So far, 18 states are on the city’s quarantine list, though four more — Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota — will be added effective Friday morning.

Travelers who return from those states after spending a day or more in them are supposed to quarantine in a single place for 14 days. There are some exceptions for essential workers commuting to Chicago from Wisconsin, though while in Chicago they’re required to avoid time in public and must limit their activities to work.

Lightfoot and other officials have said they think most people are following the order, which was issued in early July. But they hadn’t taken steps to enforce the order and fine people until Lightfoot said tickets had been issued Wednesday.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Tuesday the city was working on “enforcement activities.”

“We have started to identify individuals who have clearly broken the quarantine,” Arwady said during a press conference.

City officials aren’t checking people with out-of-state license plates or collecting names at airports, Arwady said to dispel rumors, but they are doing things like investigating when someone gets coronavirus after being in contact with a person who didn’t quarantine when they should have.

They’ve also received information about city employees “who may not have appropriately abided by quarantine” and are investigating, Arwady said.

And the city has used social media posts to see who is breaking the travel order and could be subject to a fine, Arwady said.

“… There are some social media examples where people are flagrantly posting their social activities, clearly out and about in Chicago after being in settings that are subject to our quarantine order within the timeframe,” Arwady said.

The order was put in place to protect Chicagoans, Lightfoot and Arwady have said. Coronavirus cases are surging in many places around the city, and officials want to prevent any spikes here.

“The primary goal, certainly, is about education, about helping people recognize there is significant personal risk when people are traveling in states where the outbreak is in very poor control and when they return to Chicago or visit Chicago they are, in turn, bringing that risk to others,” Arwady said. “The primary goal is education, asking people to do the right thing.”

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