Travel in a Post-COVID (almost) World

posted by Colette Rossiter on Wednesday, June 30, 2021

After a year of pandemic restrictions, people are ready to travel again. Depending on where a person is traveling will determine what travel restrictions a person may run into along the way.

First of all, the pandemic is not over. Case counts locally are down, which is fantastic, but that is not necessarily true everywhere in the world. In the United States, we continue to follow CDC guidance, and for travel, most of that is based on an individual's vaccination status. If at all possible, Clay County Public Health encourages people to delay travel plans until they are fully vaccinated.

People who are considered fully vaccinated:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine

Domestic Travel Recommendations

People who are fully vaccinated can travel safely within the United States. If you are fully vaccinated, take the following steps to protect others when you travel:

  • Masks are required when traveling on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation - this is to protect others.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations and requirements, including mask-wearing and social distancing. 

It is not necessary to get tested or self-quarantine if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months. You should still follow all other travel recommendations.

  • Keep in mind - if you have a condition or are taking medication that weakens your immune system, you may NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated. 

If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, take the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Before you travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test (PCR) 1-3 days before your trip.
  • While you are traveling:
    • Wearing a mask is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.
    • Continue to wear a mask and maintain physical distance when traveling.
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • After you travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test (PCR) 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after traveling (even if you test negative).
      • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
    • If you don't get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
    • Avoid being around people who are at an increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Local testing options are available - please reach out to your local healthcare provider to discuss getting tested.

International Travel Recommendations

Recommendations for international travel are a little more complicated due to varying travel recommendations for each destination. Check the CDC's COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination if you are traveling internationally. The bottom line, do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks. Even fully vaccinated travelers may be at an increased risk for getting and possibly spreading COVID-19 variants.

Pay close attention to the conditions at your destination before traveling. Also, there may be additional health-related items, like other vaccinations, that may be required or recommended for the country you are planning to visit.

Testing and quarantine requirements vary depending on your travel destination. Upon returning to the United States, you'll need to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before you board a flight to the United States - the same requirements apply for fully vaccinated individuals as well.

Cruise Ship Traveling Recommendations

The cruise industry is working hard to make it safe for travelers on cruise ships. However, the CDC currently recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid traveling on cruise ships worldwide. This is because the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high since the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters.

Additional Information

Guidance on travel continues to change frequently - to find out the latest travel recommendations, visit Select your destination to find information regarding any travel restrictions, any testing requirements, and if other vaccinations are recommended or required for that area. 

If you have any questions regarding your upcoming travel plans, please give Clay County Public Health a call at (712) 264-6380, and we can help you navigate the latest guidance for traveling.

Covid Domestic Travel

Covid International Travel

  1. coronavirus
  2. vaccinations

About The Author

Colette Rossiter

Colette Rossiter, serves as manager for Spencer Hospital Community Health Services and Clay County Public Health. Colette has enjoyed the variety of responsibilities her nursing career has provided, yet has a passion for public health and safety.