Traveling in a Post-COVID World: Restrictions and Requirements

COVID-19 has placed limitations on many of the aspects of our daily lives; and it has also limited where, when and how we can travel. You may have noticed that after the onslaught of COVID-19 and within its aftermath, travel requirements and restrictions are constantly evolving. Here is what we know about traveling amidst all the COVID-19 turmoil right now…

Domestic Travel 

Let’s start in our own backyard with domestic travel. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that any travel should be delayed until after you are fully vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated and you decide to travel anyway, the CDC recommends getting tested three days before travel and then again three to five days after travel. Even if you happen to test negative, it is recommended that you self-quarantine for at least seven days after travel; and, for 14 days, you should avoid people who are at greater risk for contracting and suffering severely from the effects of COVID-19.

During domestic travel for those who are vaccinated, the CDC wearing a face mask is required on planes and other forms of public transportation, such as buses, trains and rideshares. Face masks should also be worn in airports and other transportation hubs, including bus and train stations.

All state and local requirements must also be adhered to as it relates to ace masks, social distancing and curfews. So you should check with the health department of your specific travel destination to find out what those are before your departure. In general, it is always a good idea to mask up indoors when possible, as well as in crowded outdoor settings. 

After travel for those who are vaccinated, the CDC recommends monitoring yourself for COVID-19 symptoms. If you happen to experience any COVID-19 symptoms, you should be tested and begin isolating as quickly as possible. 

Cruise Ship Travel 

As one might imagine, the chance of contracting COVID-19 on a cruise ship is higher than with other types of travel because it is much easier for the virus to spread among people who are residing in the close quarters of a cruise ship. People with immune issues or who are in any other way at an increased risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, should avoid cruise ship travel completely.

Keep in mind that people who have been vaccinated are still able to spread the virus. People who do cruise should be tested one to three days before travel and three to five days after travel, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. Cruise ship passengers who have not been vaccinated should also, in addition to this recommended testing prior to and after travel, self-quarantine for ten days after cruise ship travel. 

Plus, while the CDC does not require masking up indoors on a cruise ship, it does recommend it; and certain cruise lines DO require wearing face masks when indoors onboard their cruise ships. So, it is a good idea to check with your specific cruise line on its face mask requirement before cruising. Additionally, the CDC is able to adjust what they call Conditional Sail Orders for cruise ships at any time, so, before you set sail, it may also be wise to check to see if CDC requirements for cruise ships have changed.

International Travel

As far as international travel, all passengers coming into the United States, including United States citizens and all those who are fully vaccinated, are required to have tested negative for COVID-19 within three days before they travel to this country, or they must produce documentation of the fact that they have recovered from COVID-19 within the past three months.

After international travel, those partaking must follow all state and local requirements for their destinations. A helpful tool for this within the United States is the Travel Planner provided by the CDC. Interested parties, simply visit cdc.gov to access the Travel Planner. Then type in the location (even as little as a zip code) for which they are interested in finding out travel restrictions and requirements.  Site visitors will then be provided with access to information including quarantine and testing requirements; which places, such as restaurants and beaches, are closed to travelers or due to COVID-19 in general; if there are face mask mandates and gathering size limits; etc.

When traveling from the United States to an international destination, before traveling, check with your destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health for entry requirements. If you are traveling by air, also be sure to check with your airlines for any specific requirements there as well.

Travel Specific to Other Countries

NBC News has developed and continues to update current international travel restrictions and requirements for countries from A to Z. The NBC News COVID Travel Tracker online tool is located at NBCNews.com/news/world/map-international-travel-restrictions-covid-n1262372.

According to this site, more than 50 countries are currently open to United States travelers, while six including New Zealand, are currently closed to travelers from the United States. The remaining countries in the world have travel restrictions and regulations in place which may include a negative COVID-19 test (Over 160 countries require a negative COVID test.); quarantines (Over 80 countries require quarantining for American travelers.) and curfews (Currently more than 60 countries have curfews in place.). There are also U.S. State Department Do Not Travel advisories in place for certain countries.

Even as we begin to get a firm hold on control of COVID-19 in our country and its surrounds, we need to remain cognizant of circumstances in other countries that have not, for both our sakes and theirs. One passenger on a flight from one of those countries could bring with them the virus as well as a variant of the virus for which we are not prepared. As we have unfortunately become well aware, the results of that could be disastrous.