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Or even less if you test negative for COVID-19.

By Cailey Rizzo
December 03, 2020
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their quarantine guidelines on Wednesday, decreasing the amount of time that individuals would need to isolate after traveling or being exposed to COVID-19.

The new CDC quarantine guidelines set quarantine periods at 10 days, if the person has reported no symptoms, and seven days if they have reported no symptoms and has tested negative for COVID-19. The negative test results should be obtained within 48 hours of ending quarantine. 

But these new guidelines don’t necessarily mean that you’re cleared to leave the house after 10 days inside. 

“I want to stress that we are sharing these options with public health agencies across the country so that they can determine how long quarantine periods should last in their jurisdictions based on local conditions and needs,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for COVID-19 response, said in a press conference Wednesday. “Everyone should follow the specific guidance from their local public health authorities about how long they should quarantine.” 

travelers pass through LAX
Credit: David McNew/Getty

Ending quarantine after 10 days without a negative test has about a 1% risk of spreading the virus, based on CDC models. A seven-day quarantine with a negative test has about a 5% chance of COVID-19 spread. 

Quarantine — a common protocol in most states for arriving at a new destination or returning home — is recommended for “close contacts” of COVID-19 patients, or anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes. 

Regardless of how long people end up quarantining, they should monitor themselves for symptoms like fever, cough, or fatigue for a full 14 days after exposure. 

The reduction in quarantine length aims to get more people to participate. By shortening the recommended quarantine times, the CDC hopes it “may make it easier for people to take this critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period,” Walke said. 

At least 2,760 people were reported dead from coronavirus on Wednesday in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data. It is the single-worst daily death toll since the start of the pandemic. 

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, on Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.