November 22, 2020

Students’ Thanksgiving Plans Affected as New Travel Order Covered a Majority of States

A gargoyle statue on Cobb Gate dons a mask.

Han Jiang / The Chicago Maroon

On November 10, the City of Chicago updated its Emergency Travel Orders that went into effect on November 13, requiring mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving in Chicago from states with the more than 15 new cases per day, per 100,000 in population.

The City has introduced this list to “better reflect the changing nature of the pandemic and provide more specific guidance to travelers,” as COVID–19 cases surge. As of November 19, the COVID–19 death toll in Illinois reached 11,671, exceeding the state public health director’s projection of 11,000 deaths for the year. 

Under the order, states are ranked into three categories—red, orange, and yellow—depending on the size of the outbreak. 


The City of Chicago issued new quarantine guidelines that took effect November 13 and ranks states by associated risk according to the number of new COVID cases a day.

Chicago Department of Public Health

Travelers arriving in Chicago from a red state are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a single location.

For orange states, travelers have the option between a 14-day quarantine or arriving with proof of a negative diagnostic test from a private health care provider taken within 72 hours of departure.

Travelers coming from yellow states do not need to quarantine or provide proof of a negative COVID–19 test. 

Fines for breaking these rules are $100 to $500 per day, up to a maximum of $7000, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). CDPH did not specify how the penalties will be imposed. 

When making Thanksgiving plans, students found ways to abide by the guidelines while traveling home. For example, first-year Alene Taylor planned to travel back home to Indiana, despite it being a red state. 

“My family is coming to get me so I will not be taking any public transit. I am aware that, as of right now, upon return, I will be under a hard 14-day quarantine, but I would rather do that and spend the holidays with my family,” said Taylor. “Housing [and Residence Life] states that if you leave for Thanksgiving, you cannot return until the winter quarter. The new restrictions have not changed my plans.” 

A fourth-year in the College who wished to stay anonymous told The Maroon that she planned to come back to Chicago from Alabama, an orange state, after Thanksgiving and quarantine for two weeks. “But it’s all subject to change, really depending on the situation in a month in Chicago,” she said.

The University will be closed for in-person classes and move to fully remote instruction beginning ninth week. University housing will remain closed from Thanksgiving until the start of Winter Quarter. However, students who formally request to stay in housing over the break will be able to do so until the end of the quarter.