Wisconsin, Chicago public health guidelines impact Lake Geneva tourism

Chicago's mayor on Tuesday, July 28 declared that Wisconsinites will be required to self-quarantine if they visit Chicago and vice-versa.

In Lake Geneva, a popular tourism destination for people on both sides of the border, the impact of that decision could be felt on Saturday, Aug. 1 -- the first weekend since it took effect.

Illinoisans in general are still making their way to Lake Geneva despite the Chicago-based restriction.

"I think you've got it all over the map as far as people's take on it," said Karin Bennett, owner of Cornerstone Shop and Gallery.

Customers, Bennett said, are not adhering to the new rules: "We have heard that, and then, on the other hand, we have heard from other people who have called and said, 'We are not coming up. We can't risk it. We can't risk getting arrested.'"

In addition to varying compliance, Bennett noted a roughly 20% drop in business.

"I know the concern about Wisconsin is they see the hoards on the beaches," said Bennett. "Unfortunately, that's what our customers are seeing, are the publicity of the beaches...We've definitely seen a reduction in the amount of people that have been coming. And it's too bad."

Beachgoers at Geneva Lake

Traffic around Lake Geneva was pretty steady on Saturday, although people in the area said Saturday wasn't nearly as busy as it usually is this time of year.

Some business owners said they don't mind the loss in traffic -- if it means keeping people safe.

"Business-wise it is what it is, whether it is reduced or not. I care more about our health, our employees' health, and the general public health," George Argiropoulos, manager of Lake-Aire Restaurant, said. "If my business suffers a little bit, so be it."

People walk in downtown Lake Geneva

Argiropoulos said most of his business this weekend came from travelers from the Prairie State, and many were respectful when it came to masks.

"Most of the customers downtown are Illinois people," said Argiropoulos. "Especially when I'm at the register I talk to people. Most of them are from Illinois and they come in with a mask, more so than the Wisconsin people."

Many stayed safe with social distancing on Saturday, while others in town told FOX6 News that they are not concerned about safety practices or contracting the coronavirus.