chicago travel order

Chicago Travel Order Update: 24 States and DC Now on List Requiring Quarantine or Negative COVID Test

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Chicago updated its emergency travel order on Tuesday, detailing where states currently stand under the guidelines for travelers to quarantine or test negative for COVID-19 prior to their arrival in the city.

The city now includes 24 states as well as the District of Columbia in the order's "orange tier," which requires a quarantine or pre-arrival negative test before coming to Chicago. The lesser "yellow tier" includes 25 states and Puerto Rico. Which tier states fall into depends on case rate adjusted for population.

North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio and Washington D.C. moved from the yellow to orange tier, officials said, while Idaho, Montana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina moved from the orange to the yellow tier.

Here's a look at which states are in either tier:

  • 25 yellow states and 1 territory:  Oklahoma, Mississippi, New Mexico, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Kansas, Wisconsin, Washington, California, Wyoming, Missouri, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Kentucky, Idaho, Montana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina
  • 24 orange states and District of Columbia: New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Florida, Delaware, Connecticut, Colorado, Vermont, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Alaska, Virginia, New Hampshire,  Minnesota, Michigan, West Virginia, Maryland, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, and District of Columbia

While health officials urged residents to avoid travel if possible, the requirements for each category are as follows:

  • Yellow: States with a rolling 7-day average less than 15 cases/day/100k residents.
    • No quarantine or pre-arrival test required. Maintain strict masking, social distancing and avoidance of in-person gatherings
  • Orange: States have a rolling 7-day average above 15 cases/day/100k residents 
    • 10-day quarantine OR pre-arrival negative test no more than 72 hours before arrival in Chicago with strict masking, social distancing and avoidance of in-person gatherings
      or
    • Be fully vaccinated, as defined as two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or two weeks after one dose of a single-dose vaccine and not have symptoms

As of Tuesday, both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois' coronavirus metrics would place them in the orange tier - though officials have repeatedly said the travel order requirements will not apply to residents of other parts of Illinois who are entering Chicago.

Chicago is seeing a rolling average of 22 new cases per 100,000 residents according to the city's latest coronavirus data, while the state of Illinois is seeing 16.6 new cases per 100,000 residents - both above the 15 case threshold.

City health officials updated the order in February to exempt anyone fully vaccinated and without COVID-19 symptoms from the quarantine or test requirement to bring the policy in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

"Fully vaccinated is defined as being at least two weeks after receipt of the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or at least two weeks after receipt of one dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine," CDPH said in a statement at the time.

"Fully vaccinated travelers must monitor their health for 14 days after travel and if they experience symptoms potentially consistent with COVID-19, they must self-isolate until clinical evaluation and COVID testing," CDPH continued. "They also must continue to adhere to all recommended protective measures including wearing a mask (and using job-specific personal protective equipment), maintaining physical distance, practicing hand hygiene, and avoiding crowds."

Health officials still recommended canceling all non-essential travel, vaccinated or not, and noted again in Tuesday's update that cases in Chicago have gone up in recent weeks.

Chicago’s case rate has increased in the past few weeks. This is a time to double down on what we know works to prevent the spread of COVID-19," CDPH said in a statement. "This includes wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, washing your hands and staying at home as much as you can. Chicago residents are strongly advised to cancel non-essential travel."

The emergency travel order requiring a quarantine for travelers from certain locations was first issued in July in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus and has been modified several times since. It's now updated every other Tuesday, with changes taking effect the following Friday.

The guidelines and restrictions for the emergency order changed in January to the two-tiered system categorizing states as either orange or yellow and eliminating a previous "red" category.

The city said it hopes to simply educate travelers about the order, but those found in violation could be subject to fines of between $100 and $500 per day, up to $7,000.

"The quarantine and pre-arrival testing requirements apply to people even if they have no COVID-19 symptoms," the city's health department said in a statement last month.

Exceptions can be made for travel for medical care, parental shared custody and business travel for essential workers. It also does not apply to an individual passing through states for less than 24 hours over the course of travel, including layovers at airport or people driving through a particular state. Daily commuters to and from neighboring states are also exempt.

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