The holidays are certainly going to be a little unique this year as many states maintain COVID-19 travel restrictions. While some states have lifted their travel restrictions, others are sticking to a strict protocol that includes things like testing upon arrival, self-quarantining, health forms, travel declarations, employer work plans, etc. Before you solidify your holiday schedule with loved ones, be sure to check out the rules and regulations applicable to your destination. Read on to see how various states are ensuring safe travels this holiday season.
Hawaii is one of the most sought-after travel spots, which is perhaps why the state is continuing travel restrictions through the holidays. Travelers must self-quarantine for two weeks starting the day they arrive. Passengers aged five and older can avoid the 14-day quarantine requirement if they take a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) in the 72-hour window before their flight departs.
However, the test must be taken at one of the Hawaii Department of Health’s trusted testing partners with a trained professional present. The county of Hawaii also requires that a second test be taken at the airport upon arrival.
New York was one of the first states to see a surge of coronavirus cases in early 2020, so it’s no wonder they are taking their travel restrictions seriously. Those looking to enter the state will need to self-quarantine for 14 days if they are flying in from a state with a 10% or more positive test rate or 10 per 100,000.
Currently, the list includes 41 states and territories, so quarantining is likely. Travelers must also fill out a travel form either at the airport or online when driving or arriving by train. Anyone who doesn’t faces a $2,000 fine and a court hearing.
Though the state of Illinois does not have travel restrictions currently in place, the Windy City does. The Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner issued an order on July 2, 2020, that is still in effect.
It states that anyone traveling from an area where COVID-19 cases have spiked must self-quarantine for 14-days. These locations currently include 31 states and Puerto Rico, but the state and territory list is updated every Tuesday and goes into effect the following Friday.
As of July 27, 2020, Washington D.C. has required those traveling into the state to self-quarantine for 14 days if they are entering from high-risk areas. As of October 19, 2020, there are 39 states that would fall into this category, according to the Washington DC Travel Status Update.
Non-essential travel is discouraged. The mayor also requires that residents wear a mask when in public, unless they are performing vigorous exercise or eating/ drinking.
Similar to New York, New Jersey’s travel restrictions are based on the territory where the traveler is flying from. If the location has a positive test rate of 10% or higher (or 10 out of every 100,000 residents test positive), then the passenger is advised, and expected, to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
One convenient exception that New Jersey has that New York does not, though, is that those spending less than 24 hours in the state don’t need to quarantine. Certain workers traveling for business are also exempt.
Massachusetts’ travel rules include filling out a travel form prior to arrival and self-quarantining for 14 days. Travelers who provide a negative COVID-19 test taken 72-hours or less before arrival do not need to quarantine but still need to fill out the travel form. Failure to comply can result in a $500 fine per day.
Those who are exempt from all of these rules include anyone from a low-risk state (as of October 14, 2020, this includes California, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington). Commuters, patients, military, and critical workers are also exempt.
Travelers who enter New Mexico from a high-risk state are subject to a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine. As of September 4, 2020, the only states that passengers can travel from without facing this rule are Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
The New Mexico Department of Health updates the low-risk state list every Wednesday and base it on a positivity rate of less than 5%. Essential workers, military personnel, and federal employees are exempt from the quarantine, but negative COVID-19 tests are no longer a way to avoid their quarantine rule as of October 16, 2020.
While many states are looking at the risk of the state the passenger is coming from, Vermont is concerned with the county. Those coming from a low-risk county do not need to quarantine, and neither do those who are essential workers or live near the state border.
All other travelers need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. They also have the option to take a test after a week of quarantining and can go out in public once a negative result is produced. Those arriving in personal cars or jets can quarantine at home prior to their trip.
As with New Mexico, Rhode Island requires that anyone traveling from a state with a positive testing rate over 5% self quarantine for two weeks. However, in this state travelers can provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72-hours of travel to become exempt from the rule.
Travelers can also take a COVID-19 test while in Rhode Island and end their self-quarantine once the test comes back negative. Still, the state does suggest quarantining regardless.
Connecticut’s travel restrictions go into effect once an individual has spent more than 24-hours in the state. After that, travelers will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they are arriving from a high-risk state, which currently includes 42 states and territories.
The traveler also needs to complete a health form. Certain students and workers are exempt from these restrictions. Travelers can also provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72-hours of departure to avoid quarantining.
Maine requires travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival unless they are from a state whose COVID-19 risk is equal to or better than Maine. These states include Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey. Effective September 23, 2020, it will also include Massachusetts.
Those who are not exempt must also provide a Certificate of Compliance form that indicates they’ve already tested negative for COVID-19. Visitors can also take a COVID-19 test 72 hours before arrival to forgo the quarantining rule upon a negative result.
Alaska has maintained the same travel restrictions since August 11, 2020. The first item on their traveler to-do list is to submit a travel declaration along with a self-isolation plan through their online portal.
They also require that you either provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or have your employer file a work plan with the state that you must follow. Travelers also have the third option of purchasing a $250 COVID-19 test and self-quarantining until the results arrive.
New Hampshire’s travel restrictions are unique in that they are more concerned with travels coming from more distant territories as opposed to those coming from high-risk areas. That’s why they only ask those coming from anywhere outside of New England to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Those who are from a fellow New England state, meaning Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island, don’t need to worry about quarantining at all. In addition to being in close proximity to New Hampshire, many of those state are also deemed low-risk as of late October.
As of the end of October, Ohio’s COVID-19 Travel Advisory simply states that those who are traveling from an area with a positive test rate greater than 15% should quarantine for two weeks.
Their most updated list of states that fall into this category includes South Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, Iowa, Alabama, Nebraska, Kansas, Nevada, and Utah. Since the advisory is not a mandate, it applies to anyone entering the state for any reason as advice meant for consideration.
Kentucky’s Department of Health advises that any travelers coming from a state with more than a 15% positive testing rate quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Their website currently lists those states as being South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Alabama, Nevada, and Montana.
The department also warns that those traveling from a state with a 10% or higher positive testing rate should still use precaution. Their guidelines are specific to those traveling for leisure.
Kansas’ travel restrictions are a little more open than other states, but also more specific. They as that anyone traveling there from North Dakota or the country of Andorra on or after October 21, 2020 quarantine for 14 days.
They also ask that anyone who was in close contact with a COVID-19 patient, on a cruise ship on or after March 15, or at a gathering of more than 500 people self-quarantine for two weeks. These restrictions are updated every two weeks, so be sure to double check their website if planning a trip.
Though Idaho doesn’t have statewide travel restrictions, certain counties vary in their requirements for COVID-19. In Ada County, travelers are “encouraged” to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Being that Idaho’s capital city, Boise, is in Ada County, many travelers may end up heading that way and will want to be apprised of the expectations. Some cities also have individual ordinances, especially for face coverings. Since some of these rules have penalties, be sure to check the state website before traveling.
One of the more popular destination spots, California, does not have restrictions in place pertaining to travelers. The state does require individuals to follow health protocols like wearing a mask and social distancing.
It is also recommended to contact tourist offices to verify the rules for individual counties, especially in light of the wildfires. Some of California’s top tourist attractions expecting a lot of visitors include the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Universal Studios, and various national parks.
The saying “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” has never been more relevant than during a global pandemic. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Nevada’s governor issued a travel advisory discouraging anyone experiencing symptoms, diagnosed, or recovering from COVID-19 from traveling to the state.
Though there are no formal restrictions for travelers who don’t have reason to think they have COVID-19, the governor does ask all individuals to wear a face-covering in public and avoid close contact.
Florida does not have any travel restrictions currently in place, but they do ask visitors to wear face coverings “if social distancing is not possible.” The state’s health department also asks individuals not to gather in groups larger than ten.
They also advise that travelers avoid coming to the state if they’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the past two weeks or are sick. Some of Florida’s top tourist attractions include the Kennedy Space Center and the Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach.
Louisiana does not currently have any travel restrictions, though they do have various guidelines to help ensure public spaces remain safe as they reopen. New Orleans is one of the state’s most popular cities to live and to visit.
There you can find the famous French Quarter where Mardis Gras is celebrated. The state also features various plantations and gardens, the Old State Capitol, the historic museum Vermilionville, and the Sci-Port Discovery Center which is complete with a planetarium.
Though Colorado does not have statewide travel restrictions, their health board discourages leisure travel to the state. Their website also warns that those who develop symptoms while vacationing in the state may be required to quarantine in Colorado at their own expense.
Colorado has a plethora of national parks and ski resorts to keep tourists busy year-round. Denver is one of the more popular places to visit as the city features attractions like museums, gardens, and a lovely downtown.
Though Texas does not currently have any travel restrictions in place, they do have certain limitations protocols in place to enhance public safety. These include cleaning guidelines for hotels and historic sites and reduced capacity at state parks.
Some of the “Big State’s” local attractions include the San Antonio River Walk, The Alamo, the Space Center in Houston, NASA, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey, and Moody Gardens. There are also a variety of museums, aquariums, zoos, and theme parks.
Though Utah does not have any restrictions for those entering the state, they warn that travelers may be subject to return restrictions. The state also requires the use of masks when indoors and encourages social distancing.
Utah is predominantly known for its outdoor activities, like hiking through Zion or skiing in Park City. For a more Utah-specific experience, travelers enjoy visiting the Great Salt Lake or the Bonneville Salt Flats, both of which are located west of Salt Lake City.
Though Washington state does not have travel restrictions currently in place, they do warn that some state parks and their administrative offices will be partially or completely closed for winter. They also advise travelers to check with city guidelines as they may be more specific than the state’s.
Though Seattle is perhaps the state’s most well-known city, many travelers fall for charm of Leavenworth. The village is close to Alpine Lakes Wilderness and features a holiday lights celebration.
Tennessee does not have any statewide travel restrictions currently in place, but they do encourage individuals to follow safety protocols. Their website says that travelers will be welcomed with “our famous, warm hospitality.”
Tennessee is home to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Elvis’ Graceland in Memphis, Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, The Parthenon, The Titanic Museum, and the famous music hub of Nashville. You can also find the historic Market Square in the state’s capitol, Knoxville.
Though Oregon does not have statewide travel restrictions as of yet, they do require face coverings when in doors across all counties. Venues in the state are also operating at a lower capacity and all restaurants and bars are closing at 10 p.m.
As with California, the wildfires in Oregon make it paramount to check on any location-specific restrictions. The state has a variety of popular cities for tourists to visit, from the seaside city of Astoria to the climbing and skiing city of Bend.
Though Pennsylvania doesn’t have formal traveler restrictions, the state does recommend that passengers quarantine for two weeks if they are visiting from a high-risk state. The guideline also pertains to residents who are returning from one of said states.
As of October 30, 2020, their list of risky areas includes 31 states. Pennsylvania also developed a free mobile app to inform you of potential exposures and updates. Some of the state’s top attractions include the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the famous Fallingwater house.
Michigan does not have any restrictions currently in place for travelers, and are even closing off certain downtown streets from traffic so that pedestrians can more easily social distance.
Those who want to take a look at historic times enjoy visiting the old town of Mackinac Island. Other popular attractions include the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Pictured Rocks National Seashore, and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Car-lovers may also enjoy paying a visit to “The Henry Ford.”
North Carolina does not have any statewide travel restrictions, but they do encourage passengers to check with the local government for smaller-scale protocols. While in the area, it may be worthwhile to see the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, which features plenty of scenic hiking trails.
Another North Carolina attraction is Linville Gorge and Falls, which is nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Other hotspots include The Biltmore Estate, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and Cape Hatteras.