Now that Joe Biden is president, we are seeing some changes in international restrictions from the previous administration. As the virus pandemic continues in the United States, states are adjusting their restrictions for travelers and returning residents.
International travel restrictions
Can you fly to the US again, or are trips abroad still just for essential reasons? Despite the change in presidential administrations, international travel is still challenging for most destinations.
Biden travel ban
One of President Biden’s first travel-related directives was to clarify international restrictions for citizens outside the United States. Most non-US citizens will not be able to travel to the US from these regions:
- United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside Europe)
- Schengen area
- Republic of Ireland
- South Africa
Non-US citizens will not be able to enter the United States if they have been in these countries for any of the past 14 days. You can read the full presidential proclamation for the full restrictions.
Mandatory COVID-19 test for international travel
When COVID-19 tests become publicly available, we see more state and national governments requiring a negative COVID-19 test to refrain from restrictions. At the end of 2020, travelers returning from the UK were the first travel corridor to require a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States.
All incoming international travelers must now have a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States. The The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this new policy enters into force on 26 January 2021.
Both U.S. and non-U.S. Citizens must receive a negative test within three days of arriving in the United States. After returning from international travel, the CDC recommends the following follow-up test measures:
- Get a follow-up test 3-5 days after the trip and self-quarantine for seven days
- Self-quarantine for ten days if you do not receive a follow-up test
- Avoid high-risk individuals for 14 days
The land border between the United States and Mexico remains closed except for significant travel. But Mexico is still one of the few places that Americans can fly to with minimal restrictions on insignificant travel. Mexico does not currently have a mandatory quarantine or needs an incoming diagnostic test to enter.
Many of the Caribbean islands are open to American tourists. Entry requirements vary by island, but air travelers should expect to need a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival. They may also need to stay at a selected resort throughout the trip.
Some of the islands that you should consider are:
- US Virgin Islands
- British Virgin Islands
- Dominican Republic
- St. Barts
- Turks and Caicos
A Central American gangway, Belize and Costa Rica welcome tourists.
Much of South America is difficult to reach except for essential travel reasons. Ecuador is one of the rare exceptions where a test before the trip can waive the mandatory quarantine.
Canadian sky and land border crossings remain closed for insignificant travel to Americans. One of the only ways to enter Canada for non-business purposes is to visit immediate family. However, you can expect a 14-day self-guarantee after arrival.
The rest of the world
Much of Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania are limited to insignificant travel. If you get there, the Maldives continues to be one of the only destinations that welcomes Americans.
You must take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival and stay at a selected resort to waive the mandatory quarantine or need a follow-up test.
Travel restrictions in the United States
States continue to have their restrictions. In many cases, it is best to travel within a local region.
The New England states have the most extensive travel restrictions. Each state has slightly different reservations. Those who do not travel to an adjacent part will either need quarantine or take a test before the trip to refrain from quarantine. New England says that you can waive the quarantine period with tests before the trip:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Massachusetts only allows people arriving from low-risk states to waive the mandatory quarantine. As of January 28, 2021, Hawaii is the only low-risk state.
New York State requires incoming tourists and returning residents to complete a travel health form (or pay a maximum of $ 10,000 in fines). There is a mandatory ten-day quarantine for those coming from a non-border state.
Having proof of a negative test on arrival can reduce the quarantine period. However, you must quarantine for the first three days and then do a follow-up test on day 4 with a negative result.
New Jersey has a 10-day quarantine for people arriving outside of New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Having a negative test can waive the quarantine of 10 days.
Connecticut waives the 10-day quarantine for travelers coming from New York, New Jersey or Rhode Island. A negative COVID-19 test waives the requirement for travelers.
The state of Illinois does not have state travel restrictions, but Chicago has a two-pronged policy. Travelers coming from the highest risk conditions (orange level) will need to be quarantined for up to ten days or take a negative COVID-19 test. The low-risk conditions do not require a quarantine or test before the trip.
A Colorado county, Pitkin County, has a travel booking for overnight guests. Travelers will need to complete a health condition and take a diagnostic test or quarantine before the trip for 14 days. Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort is located in Pitkin County.
New Mexico requires all tourists and returning residents to self-quarantine for 14 days. It is no longer possible to waive quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test.
California requires all tourists and returning residents to self-quarantine for ten days when arriving outside the state. There are also regional restrictions to know about. The Los Angeles and San Francisco regions are mandatory for 10 days for those coming from outside the area.
Oregon and Washington State
Both Oregon and Washington State recommend a 14-day self-quarantine for all people returning from overseas and international travel.
Hawaii has a mandatory 10-day self-quarantine for all arriving people. But it is possible to waive the quarantine with a test before the trip if you are five years or older.
One of the most remote islands, Kauai, does not participate in the pre-trip test program. All people who go to this island must be quarantined for ten days.
Alaska requires a negative test before travel to waive the 14-day self-quarantine. The state expects strict social distancing during the first five days by avoiding indoor spaces and large crowds. A follow-up test is recommended between days 5 and 14 to facilitate the requirements for social distancing.
It is still possible to travel to many places in the United States, but taking a test before traveling becomes more common. International trips to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean are still the best options for those who want to travel to an international trip.
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