Vaccinations Bring Easing Domestic Travel Restrictions, But Caution Remains Key
by CJP “Flight Levels” Editor Rob Finfrock
In a welcome change over what’s generally seemed the case since March 2020, even the most optimistic predictions about our country’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic appear to finally be within sight. Some 2.54 million Americans are being vaccinated every day, according to CDC estimates, and daily case numbers have generally decreased across most states through the first 12 weeks of the year.
These improving trends have also brought the welcome end of many travel restrictions when crossing state lines. As I write this toward the end of March, 29 states carry no travel or quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers, apart from encouraging visitors to follow CDC guidelines, while most others have eased – but not yet eliminated – some restrictions.
For example, visitors to Alaska and New Jersey are encouraged to participate in voluntary testing upon arrival, with the latter – like California, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington – continuing to officially discourage all non-business travel. Other areas, including the Chicago and Los Angeles metroplexes, maintain quarantine and/or testing requirements beyond their respective state mandates.
As has been the case throughout most of the pandemic, Hawaii maintains some of the strictest restrictions, including a mandatory 10-day quarantine period on arrival unless travelers opt to undergo testing through a state-approved partner lab within 72 hours of arrival. The New England region also continues to have mandatory testing and quarantine restrictions, with exact requirements varying by state.
Having said all that, most states are waiving travel and quarantine restrictions for those with proof of having completed an approved vaccination protocol; that also includes a two-week waiting period after receiving the final dose. And, while persons traveling via non-airline methods may find lax (or non-existent) enforcement of state-level restrictions, it’s always best to check ahead and be prepared.
To be clear, we’re certainly not out of the woods yet with regards to COVID-19. Even with increased vaccination rates, case numbers may once again climb as the combination of eased restrictions and springtime weather tempt people to drop their guard. Most officials at both the federal and state levels are still taking a cautious stance as well.
However, it’s no longer impossible to believe we may soon be able to return to more normal times and gather in large groups in the near future, even if we do so while continuing to wear masks in public and generally keeping our distance when among strangers. The next two months will likely indicate whether or not we’ve turned the corner.
(Updated state-by-state travel restriction information is compiled by multiple outlets. This listing at travelpulse.com appears to be updated frequently with links to required documentation where needed.)