What Travel Restrictions Have Been Lifted?
It is hard to believe that a year ago the United States launched the “15 days to slow the spread” campaign and a near-total ban on the country and the world from non-essential travel. A year later there are fewer travel restrictions as the health situation improves in several regions.
ANAHEIM, CA – FEBRUARY 18: General views of the Disney California Adventure Park in Disneyland … [+]
Vaccine replaces mandatory quarantines
Since the late spring or early summer months of 2020, travel restrictions have gradually eased in the US and around the world. At the same time, governments have adapted their travel guidelines to the latest medical technology. For example, people may be able to forego the mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days by receiving a negative coronavirus test result. A pre-arrival test may be the best option to avoid possible quarantine.
As more and more people around the world are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, states and countries may allow fully vaccinated individuals to waive the testing and quarantine requirements.
Shorter quarantine times
States have also cut the mandatory quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days. It may also be possible to completely or partially dispense with the quarantine with a qualifying test before arrival or a follow-up test.
Some of the states with flexible self-quarantines are:
- New Jersey
- new York
- Rhode Island
States may still require visitors to complete a Traveler Health Form or face a possible legal penalty.
Some states are easing travel restrictions
Here are some of the destinations that are easing their travel restrictions.
Approximately 10% of the US population is currently fully vaccinated. Other states waive travel restrictions for people who travel at least 14 days after their final dose. Massachusetts is one of the first states to waive its mandatory quarantine or to receive a negative test result before travel for the fully vaccinated people.
People who have also tested positive and successfully quarantined in the past 90 days can dispense with the quarantine or diagnostic test. Travelers must provide evidence of a positive test result to show that they still have active antibodies.
The Bay State also has one of the most restrictive New England travel arrangements for visitors outside of the state. For example, visitors from border states cannot freely enter, contrary to what most states allow.
Only visitors from “lower risk countries” can enter without quarantine or are not required to have a diagnostic test if they are not vaccinated and are traveling for non-essential travel. Hawaii was the only state on the list for the longest time. These countries are now classified as lower-risk (as of March 3, 2021):
- Puerto Rico
Hawaii also plans to allow the fully vaccinated to enter without having to get a diagnostic test or self-quarantine. This exception can come into force on May 1, 2021.
New Mexico has suspended its mandatory self-quarantine effective February 11, 2021. Before February 11, that opinion did not even allow an exception for diagnostic tests. While quarantine is no longer required, the state still urgently advises a 14-day self-quarantine.
California continues to recommend a 10-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors and returning residents. California residents have a greater incentive to travel within the state, but it is still recommended that you stay within 120 miles of home. Disneyland plans to reopen on April 30, 2021, but only California residents can book tickets initially.
The Disneyland usage limit depends on Orange County’s current state of health:
- Red: 15% capacity
- Orange: 25% capacity
- Yellow: 35% capacity
The stadiums can also be reopened with reduced capacity on April 1, 2021.
In Chicago (Illinois there are no nationwide travel restrictions) there is only a two-stage travel advice. States and territories are given either an orange or yellow risk rating:
- Orange: 10 days of quarantine or a negative PCR test before arrival
- Yellow: No quarantine or pre-arrival test is required
As of March 9, 2021, 24 states and one territory (Puerto Rico) have a yellow rating. Social distancing is expected, but the requirements for entry into the trip are minimal for visitors.
Belize waives the mandatory pre-travel test or self-quarantine for travelers with proof of vaccination.
Mexico was one of the first countries to reopen international travel in the summer of 2020. Americans can reach Mexico by air, but the land border remains closed to non-essential travel. You don’t need to quarantine or have a pre-travel test to fly to Mexico. However, the United States currently requires a diagnostic test on re-entry.
In a potentially surprising move, the Dominican Republic no longer requires a pre-arrival diagnostic test for most international tourists to enter this Caribbean nation. Instead, arriving guests can take a breath test. Authorities mention that between 3% and 15% of people will get a test along with those showing potential COVID-19 symptoms.
Most Caribbean destinations continue to require a pre-arrival diagnostic test to enter the quarantine country.
Iceland is a European nation that will welcome Americans again starting March 18, 2021. The only restriction is that tourists must be fully vaccinated. Europe (especially Western Europe) continues to be the “holy grail” of international tourism. Americans have not been able to travel to the continent since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Europe is currently pursuing a regional reopening approach. At the same time, regional variants trigger another round of bans.
The introduction of the vaccine may make Americans more likely to travel to Europe, but the Schengen Area remains a travel dream for non-essential travel.
Two small tropical paradises in the Indian Ocean open to tourists. The Seychelles will be the first of two nations as of March 25, 2021. Most international visitors can fly to the Seychelles. A notable exception are South African residents.
Travelers can participate if they have a negative diagnostic test within 72 hours of arrival. Vaccination is not required and there is no mandatory quarantine with a qualifying test result.
The Maldives is the second tropical paradise open to tourists. This island nation opened its doors in mid-2020 and has been open ever since. Visitors are required to take a PCR test no later than 72 hours prior to arrival, but do not need to quarantine if they are in the same authorized resort for their entire stay.
However, there may be additional restrictions when going to different islands overnight or visiting the capital, Male.
Regional non-essentials remain relatively unrestricted for most states in the United States. Mexico and the Caribbean continue to be the friendliest places for Americans to travel internationally. If the health situation improves, states can further reduce travel warnings but expect social distancing measures to continue for the foreseeable future.
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