If you've been paying attention to Chicago's emergency travel order—the set of domestic travel guidelines first released by city officials in July 2020—you may have noticed a gradual decrease in the number of states included on the order's “orange” tier, which requires non-vaccinated folks entering or returning to Chicago to either voluntarily quarantine for 10 days or receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival. Now, thanks to decreasing COVID-19 caseloads across the country, the travel order is about to hit a new milestone: Beginning on Friday, June 4, all states will be moved to the “yellow” tier, meaning that post-travel quarantine and testing requirements have effectively been dropped.
Though its release is somewhat quieter than previous travel order updates, the latest change is a significant breakthrough for travel to and from Chicago. In the nearly year-long stretch since it was implemented, the travel order has undergone a series of overhauls in accordance with shifting public health guidelines, moving from three to two tiers in January and more recently dropping restrictions for vaccinated travelers, but it's always maintained some kind of quarantine requirement for high-caseload states. In order to be downgraded to the yellow tier, states must maintain a COVID-19 caseload of fewer than 15 cases per 100,000 residents per day—which all have now achieved.
“This shows that what we have been doing to protect ourselves and others is working: social distancing, wearing masks, and above all, getting vaccinated,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a news release.
The travel order has always been somewhat symbolic in nature—though those found in violation could technically receive a fine of up to $7,000, there haven't been any publicly reported instances of that ever happening, nor has the city implemented any kind of standardized enforcement methods. But hey, now you can vacation safely and with peace of mind!
Remember: Even though all Chicagoans now have a green light for travel, CDPH still urges caution for non-vaccinated travelers; plus, vaccinated travelers are still required to wear a mask in federally-mandated spaces (like on trains, planes, airports and buses). Get your vaccine and maybe starting planning that much-needed weekend getaway from Chicago.