News Flash

Health - Public Health News

Posted on: March 25, 2021

The CDC's Guidelines for Traveling during the COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 19, Governor Inslee rescinded the travel advisory he issued last November and advised Washingtonians to refer to the CDC’s COVID-19 travel advisory guidance.

The Governor didn’t rescind his travel advisory because it’s safe to travel now. Governor Inslee said he deferred to the CDC’s travel guidance because this guidance is “more robust, thorough, and specific than my November 2020 travel advisory,” according to the Governor’s March 19 statement.

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, and because of this, the CDC still advises against travel at this time, even if you are vaccinated. The CDC’s travel guidance reflects the latest science, the most updated safety protocols, and the most current COVID-19 status both here and abroad.

That said, if you must travel, there are some important questions to ask yourself before you go, and some important steps to take if you do. 

Ask Yourself

If you’re thinking about traveling outside the state or country ask yourself the following questions before you go:

  • Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19? If you get infected, you can spread the virus to loved ones during travel and when you return, even if you don’t have symptoms. 
  • Does your destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Check state, territorial, and local requirements before you travel.
  • During the 14 days preceding your departure date, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?
  • Do you plan to participate in activities that put you at higher risk for getting COVID-19, such as:
    • 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 like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.
  • Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air, which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
  • Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?

The CDC advises that you delay your travel plans if you answer “yes” to any of the above questions. Refer to CDC’s travel guidance for more information

Protect Yourself and Others

If you’ve answered “no” to all of the questions above and have decided that you can’t delay your travel plans, take the following steps to protect yourself, the people you visit, and the people at home once you return: 

  • If you are eligible, get fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel. The testing sites run by Whatcom County Health Department/Whatcom Unified Command use PCR tests, which are a type of viral test. For locations and schedules, go to whatcomcounty.us/covidtesting. 
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who did not travel with you.
  • Get tested 3-5 days after your trip and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even if your test is negative. If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.

Do not travel if you were exposed to COVID-19, you are sick, or you test positive for COVID-19. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.

If you plan to travel internationally, the CDC requires you to have a negative COVID-19 test or documentation that proves you’ve fully recovered from COVID-19 before you will be allowed to board a flight back to the United States. Properly fitted masks are required on all forms of public transportation within or outside the U.S., including planes, buses, and trains, as well as in transportation hubs such as airports or train stations. 

To find out about COVID-19 restrictions in the areas you plan to visit, check out the CDC Travel Planner

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