Vaccinated Americans Can Travel Freely Without Having to Quarantine or Test for COVID-19, CDC Confirms
Fully-vaccinated Americans can now travel freely without having to quarantine or test for COVID-19, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Specifically, Americans who are two weeks out from their final vaccine shot can travel both domestically and internationally and do not need to quarantine when they arrive home unless required by their local jurisdiction, the CDC announced Friday.
International travelers, however, are still required to get tested within three days of boarding a flight to the U.S., regardless of their vaccination status, and should still get re-tested upon returning home. Additionally, all travelers are required to wear face masks when on public transportation, including on a plane and in an airport.
"Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19," the agency's update read. "However, international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants."
Testing requirement also remain in place depending on a traveler's destination.
"The CDC's new travel guidance is a major step in the right direction that is supported by the science and will take the brakes off the industry that has been hardest hit by the fallout of COVID by far," President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, Roger Dow, told Travel + Leisure in a statement. "Acknowledging that vaccinations eliminate the need for testing and quarantines removes a key barrier to domestic travel. Rescinding the recommendation that international visitors must quarantine also is an important incremental step."
The decision comes just days after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky pleaded with Americans to "please limit travel" amid a rise in cases and record numbers of Americans taking to the skies. The CDC still discourages non-essential travel for Americans who are not fully vaccinated.
The move also builds on the agency's earlier recommendations that those who are vaccinated do not need to quarantine if they come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, as well as the fact that fully-vaccinated people can get together indoors with other fully-vaccinated people without the need for masks.
As vaccines have started to roll out throughout the country, the concept of vaccine passports and the question of what vaccinated travelers should and shouldn't do have emerged. Several states — as well as international destinations — have begun to waive testing and quarantine requirements for those who are fully inoculated, while cruise lines have also begun to require the jab.
And while many questions still remain, the CDC released the results of a study earlier this week that showed the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) were both "highly effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections in real-world conditions among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential workers," including in asymptomatic cases. As part of the study, participants self-tested themselves with a PCR test each week, regardless of if they showed symptoms.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.