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Traveling during the coronavirus pandemic: CDC lists do's and don'ts

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 18:56:24-05

While vaccinations are underway, COVID-19 is continuing to spread across the country. Aiding in that spread is travelers.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says travel can increase your chance of contracting and spreading the virus. The best way to protect yourself is to stay home as much as you can.

However, if you do decide to travel, the CDC has listed several tips.

Before your trip

Before you travel, consider your destination and who you are traveling with. If your community or your travel destination is seeing an increase in cases, you are urged to postpone your trip. Traveling with those outside your home is also advised against.

Take precautions for 14 days before your trip, like wearing a mask and social distancing. The CDC also recommends avoiding:

  • Going to a large social gathering like a wedding, funeral, or party.
  • Attending a mass gathering like a sporting event, concert, or parade.
  • Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.
  • Being on trains, buses, in airports, or using public transportation.
  • Traveling on a cruise ship or river boat.

When packing and planning, consider the following:

  • Check travel restrictions before you go.
  • Know when to delay your travel. Do not travel if you or your travel companions are sick.
  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Bring a mask to wear in public places and on public transportation.
  • Pack hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Keep this within reach.
  • Bring enough of your medicine to last you for the entire trip.
  • Pack food and water in case restaurants and stores are closed, or if drive-through, take-out, and outdoor-dining options aren’t available.
  • If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings, see CDC’s guidance on how to clean and disinfect.

Testing for COVID-19 before and after your trip is recommended. Travelers should be tested one to three days before the trip. If you test positive, immediately isolate yourself and follow public health recommendations.

    During your trip

    If you do travel, consider these tips from the CDC:

    After your trip

    The CDC recommends testing for COVID-19 three to five days after returning home.

    The CDC also recommends reducing non-essential activities for seven days after traveling, even if you test negative. If you do not get tested after your trip, you are urged to reduce your non-essential activities for 10 days.

    For 14 days after your travel, take similar precautions to those you followed 14 days before your trip. This includes:

    • Stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who did not travel with you, particularly in crowded areas. It’s important to do this everywhere — both indoors and outdoors.
    • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are in shared spaces outside of your home, including when using public transportation.
    • If there are people in the household who did not travel with you, wear a mask and ask everyone in the household to wear masks in shared spaces inside your home.
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness.
    • Watch your health: Look for symptoms of COVID-19, and take your temperature if you feel sick.