By Chris Tye

CHICAGO (CBS) — It may just be the biggest relaxing of COVID-19 rules seen in the city of Chicago.

Travel restrictions relaxed for the states Chicagoans visit most. And a big shot in the arm for those using Chicago’s parks and lakefront.

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CBS 2’s Chris Tye reports from Montrose Harbor with opening dates for aquatic centers, great news for regular visitors to Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan and for lovers of Chicago’s lakefront.

In a year of drips and drabs of pandemic restrictions, great news of rules relaxing.

“We are seeing major progress in Chicago and across the country,” said Doctor Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Visitors to Chicago will have it easier.

A total of 18 states have now shifted from “orange” to less restrictive tier “yellow.” On Tuesday, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan joined the list. Visitors to Chicago from yellow states no longer need to quarantine and test upon arrival.

Also on Tuesday, the city announced the lakefront and 500 playgrounds will begin to reopen in coming weeks as the snow melts and crews make them resident ready.

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And CBS 2 has learned that aquatic centers in the city have the green light to re-open after almost a year. April 5 is when swimming will resume.

“I do think this feels really good. I am super optimistic,” said Doctor Emily Landon, Executive Medical Director for Infection Prevention. “I do want to keep a caveat that there is the risk of these new variants somewhere on the horizon.”

She said swimming for exercise is OK, but kids and recreational indoor swimming isn’t recommended. And while some states are now in yellow mode because of improving numbers, she said this about looming spring break trip:

“You want to have a little bit higher bar before you go on one of these vacations where you’re spending time with a lot of other people,” Landon said. “Where you can’t avoid indoor places where you’re unmasked.”

Dr. Landon is bullish on where things are headed, but those variants are going to gain steam in some pockets of this country.

She and Doctor Arwady urged that travel still be kept to a minimum and distance, to continue masking and frequent hand washing.

 

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