CDC says fully vaccinated people can travel internationally safely

Americans who are fully vaccinated can safely travel both domestically and internationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.   

Fully vaccinated people of any nationality arriving to the U.S. from other countries no longer have to quarantine upon arrival, and Americans can leave the U.S. without testing negative before boarding an international fight. 

A negative test result will still be required for people of all nationalities flying to the U.S. from international locations, including Americans returning to the U.S. from abroad. People arriving to the U.S. should still get a test within three to five days of arrival, the CDC said. 

People traveling internationally from the U.S. to other countries may still need to test or quarantine, depending on the destination country’s guidelines. 

However, the Trump administration rule barring travelers from China, Iran, the UK, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and parts of Europe from entering the U.S. is still in place, with exceptions for some essential business travel. 

And while the CDC can make national recommendations for what it deems scientifically safe, the agency has no power of enforcement. 

Each U.S. state establishes its own requirements for COVID-19 testing, quarantining and other precautions. Most states have dropped formal travel restrictions for travelers – regardless of vaccination status – although there are exceptions, such as Hawaii and Massachusetts.  

Americans who are fully vaccinated can safely travel internationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday

Americans who are fully vaccinated can safely travel internationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday

Americans who are fully vaccinated can safely travel internationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday 

'On the one hand, we are telling you we are worried about rising cases and to wear a mask and avoid travel. On the other hand, we are telling you if you are vaccinated, we are telling you travel is likely lower risk,' Dr Rochelle Walensky said during a Friday press briefing (file)

'On the one hand, we are telling you we are worried about rising cases and to wear a mask and avoid travel. On the other hand, we are telling you if you are vaccinated, we are telling you travel is likely lower risk,' Dr Rochelle Walensky said during a Friday press briefing (file)

‘On the one hand, we are telling you we are worried about rising cases and to wear a mask and avoid travel. On the other hand, we are telling you if you are vaccinated, we are telling you travel is likely lower risk,’ Dr Rochelle Walensky said during a Friday press briefing (file)

 It comes as travel hits pandemic-highs, and after months of resistance from the CDC to allowing Americans to move freely throughout the country. 

‘With millions of Americans getting vaccinated every day, it is important to update the public on the latest science about what fully vaccinated people can do safely, now including guidance on safe travel,’ said CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky.   

‘We continue to encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as it’s their turn, so we can begin to safely take steps back to our everyday lives. 

‘Vaccines can help us return to the things we love about life, so we encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as they have the opportunity.’ 

Fully vaccinated people can now travel internationally: 

  • Without testing negative for COVID-19 before boarding a flight to another country, unless the destination country requires proof of a negative test 
  • Without self-quarantining after returning, unless their state or jurisdiction requires it 

However, fully vaccinated people of any nationality should still: 

  • Test negative before boarding a flight to the U.S. 
  • Get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after returning to the U.S. from another country 
  • Wear a mask and socially distance during travel  

However, the CDC is still discouraging travel generally, Dr Walensky said during a Friday briefing.  

CDC’s guidance comes after pandemic-record numbers of Americans traveled during Spring Break. The agency is still broadly discouraging travel for Americans because about two thirds of people in the US remain unvaccinated 

It comes as pandemic-record numbers of Americans board domestic and international flights. 

On March 28, 1.57 million people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 

That’s the highest number since the pandemic began. Exactly a year before, on March 28, 2020, just 180,000 people flew. 

Travel is still below 2019 levels – 2.5 million people were screened by TSA on March 28, 2019 – but increasing consistently. 

CDC’s new guidance comes as U.S. vaccinations ramp up steeply. 

The U.S. is now giving about 2.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines a day and nearly 100 million Americans have had at least one dose of vaccine. 

Nearly 17 percent of Americans are now fully vaccinated. 

But the steep rise in vaccination rates comes amid concerning increases in new COVID-19 cases across the U.S. 

A Reuters analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found the average number of new daily infections is 17 percent higher than it was last week.  

‘Despite the good news on the vaccination front we simply cannot afford to relax mitigation efforts,’ Dr Walensky said. 

Dr Walensky acknowledged the seeming contradictions in CDC’s warnings and guidance, highlighting the tenuous tipping point in the pandemic the U.S. finds itself in.  

‘On the one hand, we are telling you we are worried about rising cases and to wear a mask and avoid travel. On the other hand, we are telling you if you are vaccinated, we are telling you travel is likely lower risk,’ Dr Walensky said. 

‘What science shows us is that getting vaccinated allows you to do more things safely, and it’s important for us to provide that guidance, even in the context of rising cases. 

‘We must balance that guidance with the fact that most Americans are not yet fully vaccinated, which is likely contributing to our rising cases, and that means that we have to reinforce messages about prevention measures. 

‘We all want to return to the things we love and getting more people vaccinated as quickly as possible and taking preventive measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 is the path out of this pandemic and back to our every day activities.’   

US STATE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS 

As of April 2, 2021, most states have dropped domestic travel restrictions for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Some still require quarantine periods or negative tests: 

ALABAMA 

No formal travel restrictions  

ALASKA

No formal travel restrictions; testing within 72 hours of arrival advised 

ARIZONA

No formal travel restrictions 

ARKANSAS

No formal travel restrictions 

CALIFORNIA

Visitors discouraged; 10-day quarantine recommended  

COLORADO

No formal travel restrictions 

CONNECTICUT

No formal travel restrictions; test and quarantine advised, but not required 

DELAWARE

No formal travel restrictions  

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Visitors advised to test negative within 72 hours before arrival; fully vaccinated people, fully recovered COVID-19 survivors and travelers from Maryland, Virginia, North Dakota and Hawaii exempt 

FLORIDA

No formal travel restrictions 

GEORGIA

No formal travel restrictions   

HAWAII

Mandatory 10-day quarantine; exception for negative test taken within 72 hours before arrival 

IDAHO

No formal travel restrictions 

ILLINOIS

No statewide travel restrictions; Chicago requires 10-day quarantine or negative test taken within 72 hours before arrival from higher-risk states 

INDIANA

No formal travel restrictions 

IOWA

No formal travel restrictions 

KANSAS

Seven- to 10-day quarantine required depending upon where you have traveled from and test status. See state guidance 

KENTUCKY

Travel discouraged; No formal travel restrictions

LOUISIANA

No formal travel restrictions 

MAINE

Mandatory 10-day quarantine or negative test taken within 72 hours before arrival; Fully vaccinated travelers and residents of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont exempt 

MARYLAND

No formal travel restrictions 

MASSACHUSETTS

Mandatory 10-day quarantine or negative test taken within 72 hours before arrival 

MICHIGAN

No formal travel restrictions 

MINNESOTA

No formal travel restrictions 

MISSISSIPPI

No formal travel restrictions 

MISSOURI

No formal travel restrictions 

MONTANA

No formal domestic travel restrictions, except for international arrivals, who are required to test negative or quarantine  

NEBRASKA

No formal travel restrictions

NEVADA

 No formal domestic travel restrictions; testing within 3-5 days of arrival; people who have

NEW HAMPSHIRE

No formal domestic travel restrictions; testing within 3-5 days of arrival; people who have traveled internationally within 10 days must test negative or quarantine 

NEW JERSEY

Visitors discouraged; testing one to three days before arrival and again after arrival advised; Seven-day quarantine advised with negative test; 10-day quarantine advised if results unavailable; Travelers from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware exempt  

NEW MEXICO 

Mandatory 14-day quarantine; Travelers from ‘low-risk’ states with test-positivity rate of 5% or lower exempt

NEW YORK

No quarantine required after April 1; traveler health forms required 

NORTH CAROLINA

No formal travel restrictions 

NORTH DAKOTA

No formal travel restrictions  

OKLAHOMA

No formal travel restrictions

OREGON

Advised 14-day quarantine 

RHODE ISLAND

Travelers from states with 5% or higher test-positivity must quarantine for 10 days or test negative within 72 hours before arrival 

SOUTH CAROLINA

No formal travel restrictions

SOUTH DAKOTA 

No formal travel restrictions

TENNESSEE

No formal travel restrictions

TEXAS

No formal travel restrictions 

UTAH

No formal travel restrictions

VERMONT

Mandatory 14-day quarantine for nonessential travelers; fully vaccinated travelers exempt 

VIRGINIA 

No formal travel restrictions 

WASHINGTON 

No formal travel restrictions

WEST VIRGINIA 

No formal travel restrictions 

WISCONSIN

No formal travel restrictions; nonessential travel discouraged

WYOMING

No formal travel restrictions 

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