What Does the Chicago Emergency Travel Order Mean for Apartment Landlords and Renters?

Before the novel Coronavirus reached Chicago, a landlord’s public health dilemmas were somewhat mundane, like whether to allow smoking or pets (other than service animals) on the premises.  Today, as landlords try to adopt safe practices to protect tenants from the transmission of the virus on their properties, they must consider their role, if any, in enforcing state and local orders designed to flatten the curve.  

Chicago’s revised Emergency Travel Order places states into two categories: orange or yellow. The order pertains to travelers entering or returning to Chicago from states experiencing new COVID-19 cases and directs them to obtain a NEGATIVE test result for COVID-19 72 hours prior to arrival and then quarantine for a period of 10 days once they arrive in Chicago. Orange, or the more severe category, is the distinction placed on states that have more than 15 average new daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents; Yellow is for states that have fewer than 15 average daily new cases per 100,000 residents.

The order to self-quarantine brings up a raft of questions for travelers and apartment renters alike. This post will address some of the most pressing questions from both the landlord’s and apartment renter’s perspectives. 

Which States are on the List for Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order?

Here are the states that currently fall within the less severe, or Yellow, category for Chicago travelers:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

And these states plus Washington, D.C. are currently in the Orange (more risky) category:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Virginia

These are considered states where community spread of Coronavirus is unchecked, so there’s probably a fair number of Chicago residents, both new and longstanding, who need to quarantine if they’ve just returned from a visit to one of these nearby or bordering states. Other recent transplants, such as college graduates or people moving to Chicago for work, may have to test negative for COVID-19 and then isolate for 10 days when they get to Chicago.

Are There Exceptions from the Self-Quarantine Order in Chicago?

Essential workers and students who travel for the purposes of school are exempt from the order. If an essential worker or student has traveled to one of the hard-hit states for the purposes of their job, then they are exempt from the 10-day quarantine rule. There are also exceptions for people travelling for medical care or parental shared custody.

What Penalties Do People Face if They Violate Chicago’s Self-Quarantine Order for Travelers?

Fines can be issued for violating the order. People found in violation of the order can face fines of $100 - $500 per day, up to $7,000. 

How Can Landlords Enforce the Self-Quarantine Order in Chicago Apartments?

Individual landlords aren’t tasked with enforcing the self-quarantine order.  But landlords and property managers might worry about spreading the virus when interacting with those who have just arrived in Chicago. Landlords and property managers can ask applicants if they’ve adhered to the order before agreeing to provide an in-person meeting or showing.  And landlords and property managers can remind their tenants of their responsibilities to follow the directives of public health authorities. Tenants who host travelers from a state designated “orange” should remind their guests of their obligations to test prior to travel and to quarantine upon return.  

Most apartment leases require tenants to follow federal, state, and local law. In fact, paragraph 5 of Domu’s form lease requires tenants to “comply with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations while occupying the Premises,” and further confirms that tenants “shall not engage in any action, or allow any guests or invitees to engage in any action, that would be dangerous to life, limb, or property, cause a disturbance to other tenants or neighbors . . .”

If a landlord has used Domu’s lease, or a lease that similarly forbids tenants from endangering the lives of others, a landlord could enforce public health rules like mandating masks in public areas, limiting the number of guests a tenant might invite into the building at any particular time, or even forbidding guests who are subject to the recent self-quarantine order.

Most Chicago landlords are actively communicating with their tenants about their efforts to contain the virus on the property. In addition to notifying tenants of upgraded schedules for disinfection of high-touch surfaces, landlords could notify tenants that visitors from the designated states must self-quarantine before using common areas (to the extent possible), and landlords could adopt a virtual-tours only policy for potential renters who are subject to the self-quarantine order.

For more information, renters and landlords are encouraged to visit the City of Chicago’s website or the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website for Coronavirus resources.