COVID-19 Q&A: Traveling during the pandemic

As summer approaches, and beaches and campsites beckon, it’s still important to keep in mind that we are not out of the woods yet as far as the pandemic goes. Travel is possible, with a little homework ahead of time and adherence to precautions to avoid spreading COVID-19.

However, please don’t travel if you were recently exposed to COVID-19you are sick, you test positive for COVID-19, or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test. And please don’t travel with someone who is sick.

Q: Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine while I’m in Idaho for vacation?

A: Yes – Idaho has lifted its restriction that people have to live or work in the state to get vaccinated. Everyone ages 16 and older can get vaccinated in Idaho, regardless of where they live or work. Vaccine eligibility is expected to be expanded to include 12-15 year-olds later this week,

Q: What if I am not yet fully vaccinated or vaccinated at all and must travel?  

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated, because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

For those who are not fully vaccinated and must travel, the CDC recommends the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Before you travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. Don’t travel if the test is positive.
  • While you are traveling:
    • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
    • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you.
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • After you travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
      • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
      • 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 increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
    • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.

Q: Can people who have recently recovered from COVID-19 travel?

If you had COVID-19 in the past three months, follow all requirements and recommendations for fully vaccinated travelers except:

  • You can show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel) instead of a negative test result before boarding an international flight to the United States.
  • You do NOT need to be tested 3-5 days after travel to the United States unless you have symptoms of COVID-19.

We know that people can continue to test positive for up to 3 months after they had COVID-19 and not be infectious to others.

Q: Do airlines require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for travel?

A: Overall, circumstances may vary. At least one airline company, Qantas (Australia), has declared that the airline is looking into changing its terms and conditions to include proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering Australia. These requirements may expand to other airlines around the globe, including major U.S. airlines. Check with individual airlines for their rules about this before you book a flight.

Q: Are there requirements for testing or vaccination for international travel?

A: Even if you are fully vaccinated, you will need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States.

If you are fully vaccinated:

  • You do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
  • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.
  • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
  • You do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.

If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within 3 days prior to their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after travel.

Q: Is COVID-19 testing required before coming to the United States?

A: All air passengers coming to the United States,including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.

To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho, please continue to:

  • Wear face coverings  
  • Keep at least six feet between you and others
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes

Resources

Stay up-to-date with the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19 at the following websites:

DHW also posts lots of information, including daily updates on the numbers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.

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