Travelers

 

Top Six Things You Should Know about Travel

  • COVID-19 is still spreading within Virginia and across the United States (U.S.).
  • Because travel may increase your chance of getting infected or spreading COVID-19, staying home is the safest way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. 
  • VDH urges Virginians who are not fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine to avoid non-essential travel, especially if you are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 or if you will be visiting someone at higher risk of serious COVID-19
  • Fully vaccinated people can travel safely within the U.S. and only need to be tested if required by their destination. Fully vaccinated people who travel internationally should continue to get tested three to five days after travel. Fully vaccinated domestic and international travelers are not required to stay home (quarantine) after travel but should continue to follow the recommendations for traveling safely provided below
  • Do not travel if
    • You have fever, cough or other symptoms of COVID-19, or
    • You recently tested positive for COVID-19 with a PCR or antigen test, or
    • You are waiting for COVID-19 PCR or antigen test results, or 
    • You have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. 
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel,
    • Check travel restrictions for U.S. travel or international travel before you go.
    • Get your flu shot, ideally at least two weeks before travel, during flu season.  
    • Get vaccinated against COVID-19 when it is available to you. Wait for two weeks after completing your vaccine series to travel because it takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
    • Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test one to three days before travel and do not travel if your test is positive. 
    • Always wear a mask in public settings, when using public transportation, and when around people you do not live with. 
    • Stay at least six feet apart from anyone who does not live with you.
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer. 
    • Get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after travel and stay home (quarantine) for a full seven days after travel, even if your test is negative. If you don’t get tested, stay home for 10 days after travel.

Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. You may not be able to keep at least six feet away from others seated nearby or those standing in or passing through the aisles on airplanes, trains, or buses. If you do decide to travel, consider the risks for getting or spreading COVID-19, depending on how you travel.

Travel-related Requirements in Virginia

As of April 16, 2021: 

  • With specific exceptions, several presidential proclamations prohibit the entry into the U.S. of foreign nationals who have been in any of the following countries during the past 14 days: 
    • China 
    • Iran
    • European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City). 
    • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
    • Republic of Ireland
    • Brazil 
    • South Africa 
  • Virginia currently does not have any quarantine requirements for people arriving in Virginia from other U.S. or international locations. 
  • Effective February 2, 2021, all travelers aged two years and older are required to wear face masks while on public transportation in the U.S., including Virginia (e.g., planes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, rideshares) and in U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations. This requirement applies to passengers, conveyance operators (e.g., crew, drivers, conductors, and other workers involved in the operation of conveyances), and operators of transportation hubs. 
  • In Virginia, wearing a mask is required for any person five years or older while indoors (except when in their own home) and while outdoors when unable to stay six feet away from other individuals who do not live with them (per Executive Order 72). Individuals may remove masks to participate in a religious ritual. 
  • Effective January 26, 2021, there are testing requirements for certain travelers arriving in the U.S. (including Virginia) from another country by airplane. The U.S. requires all air passengers arriving from a foreign country to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen test) conducted within three days before departure. People who have had a positive viral test in the past three months and who met the criteria to end isolation may travel with documentation of the positive viral test result and a letter from their healthcare provider or a public health official that states they have been cleared for travel. This testing requirement applies to all air passengers, two years of age or older, traveling into the U.S., including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. It also applies to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends (but does not require) that all people who are not fully vaccinated get tested before and after travel and stay home for at least seven days after travel. Those who are fully vaccinated only need to get tested if required by their destination and do not need to stay home after travel. Learn more below.

Travel Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People 

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 than those who are not fully vaccinated. VDH and CDC recommend that all people delay traveling domestically or internationally until they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 with an FDA-authorized vaccine (such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines). Fully vaccinated means two weeks or more have passed since getting the second dose of a two-dose vaccine (such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines), or two weeks or more have passed since getting one dose of a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson vaccine). 

Please note: CDC and the FDA have recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine after six women had serious blood clots six to thirteen days after vaccination with a J&J vaccine. CDC and the FDA have convened an expert panel to look at the issue. These incidents are considered very rare with about one person developing this disorder out of every million people who have received the J&J vaccine.

Information for domestic travelers

  • If you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you can travel safely within the U.S. 
  • You do not need to get tested before or after travel unless required by your destination. 
  • You do not need to stay home (quarantine) after travel. 

Information for international travelers

  • You only need to get tested before travel if it is required by your destination. 
  • All air passengers entering the U.S., including fully vaccinated people, are required to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen test) conducted within the three days before departure or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 within the past three months. 
  • You should get tested three to five days after travel, as international travel poses additional risks of getting or spreading COVID-19.
  • You do not need to stay home (quarantine) after arriving in the U.S. 

All fully vaccinated travelers should follow these recommendations for traveling safely:  

  • Wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose when waiting for, traveling on, or departing from public conveyances. 
  • Stay at least six feet away from anyone who is not from your household and avoid crowds.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days after you travel. Get tested if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • Follow U.S. state and local or international recommendations or requirements for travelers. 

Before you travel

  • Get the flu shot, ideally at least 14 days before travel, during flu season.
  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19 when vaccine is available to you. After completing your vaccine series, wait for two weeks before travel because it takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
    • Completing the vaccine series means getting both vaccines if the vaccine is offered as a two-dose series (e.g., Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines) or getting the vaccine if the vaccine is offered as a one-dose series (e.g., Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine).
  • Determine if COVID-19 is spreading at or near your destination. Check here for U.S. states or counties. Look at the cases in the area in the last seven days.
  • Check for up-to-date information for areas along your route and your final destination, in case there are travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders or quarantine requirements upon arrival, border closures, or other requirements. Keep checking for updates as you travel. 
  • If you are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19, get a COVID-19 viral test (e.g., PCR or antigen test) before traveling. The best time to get tested is one to three days before travel. Testing does not eliminate all risk, but it can help make travel safer. Fully vaccinated people only need to get tested before travel if it is required by their destination. 
  • Do not travel if you are ill, if your PCR or antigen test result is positive, if you are waiting for your test result, or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Check if your airline requires any health information, testing, proof of test results or other documents. Some destinations or layover locations might require testing before travel and/or after arrival. For people who have recovered from a prior COVID-19 infection, testing within 90 days of the initial positive result is not recommended. Instead, these people may be instructed to provide documentation of the positive viral test result and a letter from their healthcare provider or a public health official that states they have been cleared for travel.
  • Information about testing requirements for your destination may be available from the Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health, or the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information webpage.
  • Consider getting travel insurance in case you need to cancel your trip due to illness.

Protect yourself and others while traveling

  • Pack enough supplies of disposable or cloth masks, hand sanitizer, and medicines to last you for the entire trip. 
  • Wear a mask to cover both the mouth and nose when waiting for, traveling on, or departing from public conveyances. You and your travel companions (including children) pose a risk to your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you were exposed to the virus. 
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household. 
  • Make sure you know where and how you can get medical care if needed at your destination.
  • If you start to feel sick while traveling, you will need to isolate yourself from others including any travel companions. 
  • If you know that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, postpone further travel. 
  • Regardless of where you traveled or what you did during your trip, take the actions listed below to protect others from getting sick after you return. If you engaged in higher risk activities during your travel, then it is even more important to take precautions for the 14 days after your travel.

After you travel

Take special precautions and monitor your health for 14 days after your trip.

  • If you are not fully vaccinated, VDH recommends that you get tested with a viral test (e.g., PCR or antigen test) three to five days after travel and stay home (quarantine) for seven days. Even if you test negative, stay home for the full seven days. If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 10 days after travel. If you are fully vaccinated and travel internationally, you should get tested three to five days after travel, but you do not need to stay home (quarantine). 
  • If you test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected and follow public health recommendations. Do not travel until it is safe for you to be around others; this includes your return trip home.
  • For 14 days after any kind of travel, it is especially important to wear a mask when around others who did not travel with you, stay at least six feet from others, wash hands often, and avoid being around others who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19. 
  • Watch your health for 14 days after travel. Look for symptoms of COVID-19. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day (once in the morning, once at night) and check for fever. Also, watch for cough or trouble breathing. You can download VDH’s Daily Symptom Monitoring Log to help keep track of your symptoms.

If you start to feel sick before, during, or after travel, isolate yourself. 

The most common signs or symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other common symptoms include chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. Not everyone with COVID-19 will have all symptoms and fever might not be present. If you have symptoms, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected and contact a healthcare provider. COVID-19 testing may be available at your healthcare provider’s office, urgent care center, pharmacy, or other healthcare clinic. Some testing sites in Virginia are offering community testing events, such as drive-thru testing. To find testing sites in your area, visit the website Virginia COVID-19 Testing Sites. Learn more about what to do if you feel sick.

Higher Risk Activities

Here are examples of situations that can increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19:

  • Travel from a country or U.S. territory with a Level 2, Level 3, or Level 4 Travel Health Notice.
  • Being in an area that is experiencing high levels of COVID-19 spread. You can check the levels for places you traveled, including countries as well as U.S. states, territories, counties, and cities.
  • 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 — for example, in restaurants, bars, airports, bus or train stations, or movie theaters.
  • Traveling on a cruise ship or river boat. CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises. 

Holiday Travel

Holiday travel can be risky because more people are traveling and getting together to celebrate. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you are thinking about traveling for an upcoming holiday, see information from CDC about important considerations before deciding to travel and staying overnight for holidays and information from VDH about social gatherings and holiday celebrations.

For more information:

  • Visit CDC’s website for additional travel considerations.
  • Visit CDC’s Travel Planner for information on travel policies and restrictions of state, local, territorial, and tribal communities and destinations. 
  • Visit the Travelers section of the VDH FAQ page for more information.
  • Call VDH COVID-19 hotline at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343)

 

Page Last Updated: April 16, 2021