Travelers

 

Top 6 Things You Should Know about Travel

  • COVID-19 is spreading rapidly within Virginia and across the United States. 
  • 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 all Virginians 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. This recommendation applies to everyone, even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have fully recovered from COVID-19. 
  • VDH encourages all Virginians to participate virtually in the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. In-person attendance is not recommended because of the continued, rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the region and the violence at the United States Capitol on January 6. For more information about the inauguration, visit the Government of the District of Columbia's website here.
  • 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 must travel, 
    • Check travel restrictions before you go.
    • Get your flu shot, ideally at least 14 days before travel.
    • For U.S. travel, consider getting tested 1-3 days before travel and 3-5 days after travel. Also, consider reducing non-essential activities for a full 7 days after travel if you get tested after travel or a full 10 days if you don’t get tested after travel. 
    • Always wear a mask in public settings, when using public transportation, and when around people you do not live with. 
    • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who does not live with you.
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.

Do your part to stop the spread by taking everyday steps to keep yourself and others safe and healthy. Keep at least 6 feet apart between yourself and others. Wear a mask in public places. Wash your hands often, stay home if you are sick, and disinfect high-touch surfaces. These all are very important ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Check out VDH's Prevention Tips to learn more.

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. We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others. Air travel often requires spending time in security lines and busy airport terminals. Travel by bus, train, and other conveyances poses similar challenges. People may not be able to distance themselves at least 6 feet from individuals seated nearby or those standing in or passing through the aisles on airplanes, trains, or buses. If you do decide to travel, consider various risks for getting or spreading COVID-19, depending on how you travel.

Travel-Related Requirements in Virginia

As of January 15, 2021: 

  • Consistent with CDC guidance, Virginia currently does not have any quarantine requirements for people arriving in the Commonwealth from other U.S. or international locations. 
  • In Virginia, wearing a mask is required for any person 5 years or older while indoors (except when in their own home) and while outdoors when unable to maintain at least six feet of physical distance from other individuals who do not live with you (per Executive Order 72). Individuals may remove masks to participate in a religious ritual. 
  • Effective December 28, 2020, the United States requires all air passengers arriving to the United States from the United Kingdom to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result to the airline before boarding the flight. Effective January 26, 2021, the United States requires all air passengers arriving from a foreign country to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen test) conducted within the 3 days before departure. People who have had a positive viral test in the past 3 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.
  • The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends that all people get tested before and after travel and stay home or reduce non-essential activities for at least 7 days after travel. Learn more below. 

Before Travel

The safest thing to do is to stay home. If you must travel, it is important to do it as safely as possible. You can spread COVID-19 to others in busy travel environments like in airports, and bus and train stations. You can also spread it to family, friends, and your community after travel. 

  • Before travel, check for travel restrictions for areas along your route and your final destination, in case there are travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders or quarantine requirements upon arrival, state border closures, or other requirements. Plan to keep checking for updates as you travel. 
    • Effective December 28, 2020, the United States requires air passengers arriving to the United States from the United Kingdom to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result to the airline before boarding the flight. Effective January 26, 2021, the United States requires all air passengers arriving from a foreign country to have proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test (e.g., PCR or antigen test), within the 3 days before departure. Getting tested with a viral test (e.g., PCR or antigen test) is recommended before traveling internationally by other travel modes and can be considered before traveling in the United States. The best time to get tested is 1-3 days before travel. Testing does not eliminate all risk, but it can help make travel safer.
  • Check if your airline requires any health information, testing, or other documents. Some destinations or layover locations might require testing before travel and/or after arrival.
  • 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.
  • Regardless of the travel destination, it is essential to stay at least 6 feet from others, wear a mask, and wash hands frequently with soap and water. 

During Travel

During your travel, you might be exposed to COVID-19. You might not have any symptoms, but you can be contagious and spread the virus to others. 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. 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 Travel

After your travel, take special precautions and monitor your health for 14 days. 

  • After traveling internationally, VDH recommends that you get tested with a viral test (e.g., PCR or antigen test) 3-5 days after travel and stay home for 7 days. Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days. If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 10 days after travel. 
  • After traveling in the United States, VDH recommends that you consider getting tested with a viral test (e.g., PCR or antigen test)  3-5 days after travel and reduce non-essential activities for a full 7 days, even if you test negative. If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to reduce non-essential activities for 10 days after travel.
  • 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 6 feet from others, wash hands often, and avoid being around others who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19.

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

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 your 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.

Summary of Recommendations for Before, During, and After Travel

Before Travel

During Travel

After Travel

  • Get the flu shot, ideally at least 14 days before travel.
  • For 14 days before you travel, take everyday precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands.
  • 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 7 days. Check here for international locations.
  • Determine if you or someone you live with is more likely to get very ill from COVID-19.
  • Determine if your destination has any requirements or restrictions for travelers. All travelers should check for travel restrictions for where you are, along your route, and where you will be visiting to get the most up to date information. Plan to keep checking for updates as you travel.
  • Get tested with a viral test (e.g., PCR or antigen test) 1-3 days before international travel and consider getting tested before U.S. travel. Make sure you carry proof of your negative test result before you travel. If you are waiting for a result, delay your travel. Carry a copy of your test result with you while traveling if testing is required by the commercial carrier or your 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.
  • Pack plenty of hand sanitizer and keep it within reach in case you don’t always have a chance to wash your hands. 
  • Bring disposable or extra masks (cloth face coverings) in case yours become dirty and you won’t have a chance to do laundry.
  • Bring enough of your medicine to last you for the entire trip. 
  • Prepare food and water for your trip. 
  • Pack non-perishable food in case restaurants and stores are closed.
  • Wear a mask to cover both the mouth and nose when waiting for, traveling on, or departing from public conveyances. Masks should be worn at an airport, bus or ferry terminal, train or subway station, seaport.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • After international travel, get tested with PCR or antigen test 3-5 days after travel and stay home for 7 days after travel, even if you test negative. If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 10 days after travel.
  • After travel in the United States, consider getting tested 3-5 days after travel and reducing non-essential activities for 7 days after travel, even if you test negative. If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 10 days after travel.
  • If you test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself from others.
  • When around others, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people who are not from your household. It is important to do this everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are outside of your home. If there are people in the household who did not travel with you, wear a mask in shared spaces inside the house for 14 days after travel.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 for 14 days after travel.
  • Watch your health for 14 days after travel. Look for symptoms of COVID-19, and take your temperature if you feel sick. 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, isolate yourself at home. If you have symptoms and want to be tested, contact your healthcare provider. Your provider may collect samples to test you or help you to find sampling sites in your area. 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.

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 considering travel 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.  
  • Read VDH's FAQs for International Travelers and U.S. Travelers
  • Call VDH COVID-19 hotline at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343)

Page Last Updated: January 15, 2021