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Should you travel? Here’s the latest update to Chicago’s emergency travel order

The order has been simplified (slightly) into a two-tiered system.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

Chicago's emergency travel order has evolved significantly since it was first introduced back in July, providing guidelines for travelers entering or returning to Chicago. As of Friday, January 15, the emergency travel order was simplified to a two-tiered system, doing away with the three-tiered system that was introduced when the emergency travel order was updated in November.

The Chicago Department of Public Health now classifies states into the following tiers:

  • Orange: States experiencing outbreaks of more than 15 average daily cases per 100,000 residents. Avoid travel to these states. Quarantine for 10 days if entering or returning to Chicago these states OR get a pre-arrival negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago.
  • Yellow: States with fewer than 15 daily cases per 100,000 residents. Avoid non-essential travel to these states. No quarantine is required if entering or returning to Chicago from these states.
39 travel order map
Courtesy City of Chicago

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady explained during a press conference that the update to the emergency travel order was made to "come more in line with updated CDC guidance related to travel and also in recognition that, increasingly, testing is available in more settings."

Currently, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Florida, Delaware, Georgia, Connecticut, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Vermont, Kentucky, Alabama, Arizona, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Alaska, District of Columbia, Utah, Nebraska, Virginia and New Hampshire are in the orange tier.

Michigan, Iowa, Idaho, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, Mississippi, Montana, West Virginia, Maryland, Maine, New Mexico, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Kansas, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Washington, California, Wyoming, Missouri, Oregon, Puerto Rico and Hawaii are in the yellow tier.

Like the previous versions of the travel order, there are exceptions for those needing to travel for work, healthcare or shared parental custody agreements. Those found in violation of the order can be fined $50–$150 a day for a total of up to $7,000, though we have yet to hear of any cases in which the city has actually enforced the order by imposing a fine.

City officials will review and update the travel order again in two weeks, so look out for a refreshed map on Tuesday, March 23.

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