Vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are now encouraged to get tested before and after domestic travel, and the antigen test to enter the U.S. remains mandatory
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently made updates to its domestic travel advisories and is now urging travelers to take a COVID-19 test prior to domestic travel.
The new update has raised alarms since the test was currently only advised for international travel and for travelers without vaccinations or incomplete schemes, but now the agency recommends it to vaccinated travelers too. The statement also suggests a period of time for the test: “Consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than three days) before your trip.”
The CDC also recommends travelers get tested after their domestic trip. On their website, they state that it should be considered “for current infection with a viral test if your travel involves situations with greater risk of exposure such as being in crowded places while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator”.
The agency has been increasing precautions as the new variant keeps spreading rapidly. A few days ago, NYC’s Commissioner of Health and Human Hygiene, Ashwin Vasan, advised all residents and tourists in New York to wear face masks “at all times”, including indoor and outdoor spaces.
For international travel, the COVID-19 test remains mandatory: “Before boarding a flight to the United States, you must show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.”
That measure hasn’t changed, despite the recent request from 260 companies to remove the test requirement. The CDC also recommends travelers get tested within a few days after arriving from international travel.
CDC’s Travel Recommendations
Even though this year’s travel season seems to get busier than 2019, domestic and international travel haven’t completely gone “back to normal”. There are still COVID-19-related requirements and recommendations, and the CDC is constantly making updates depending on current developments.
At the moment, these are the main travel advisories stated on the CDC’s official website:
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines before travel.
- Get tested no more than three days before departure and also get tested after arrival.
- Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation and learn about specific restrictions. If the risk of getting the virus is high, the agency advises taking precautions like wearing masks, maintaining social distance, washing hands often, and monitoring daily health.
- Face coverings are now optional but recommended. Travelers should wear masks in indoor spaces, in public transportation, and also while flying.
- When traveling by air, check if the airline requires special documentation like testing or vaccination.
- Do not travel if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, fatigue, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, headache, sore throat, or nausea.
- Do not travel if you tested positive, if you are waiting for COVID-19 test results or if you had contact with a person with COVID-19.
From international travel, an antigen test is required to enter the US, but for domestic travel —since it is just recommended and not mandatory— travelers can take a self-test or an at-home test to get rapid results, if they so choose. US citizens can buy these tests or get them for free at covid.gov.
The agency has also warned about high travel risk countries—now categorized on level 3, level 4 is now only for special circumstances— and recommends travelers avoid destinations in that level. Popular countries for tourists such as Canada, France, Costa Rica, and the United Kingdom are in this category.
According to recent data shared by US health officials on Wednesday, the nation is reporting over 94,000 new infections daily, the number has increased 25% compared to last week. The CDC has also informed that hospitalizations have also been rising.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories