It’s mid-November, and Thanksgiving is almost here. Before you hit the road, it’s a good idea to check the weather and the latest coronavirus travel restrictions. States across the country are clamping down, but escaping to a warmer climate is still possible.
New York Travel Restrictions
New York State continues to have some of the strictest restrictions in the mainland United States. In addition to completing a Traveler Health Form upon arrival, incoming travelers will need to take a mandatory test or quarantine for 14 days.
If traveling from a noncontiguous state, you must complete these steps:
- Obtain a negative PCR test three days before arrival to New York State
- Quarantine for three days upon arrival
- On day 4 of quarantine, obtain a follow-up negative PCR test to end the quarantine
If you don’t have valid proof of a negative test upon arrival, you must quarantine for the full 14-day period. Previously, all incoming travelers had to quarantine for a fortnight.
Travelers who only leave New York for less than 24 hours don’t have to quarantine but must take a test on day 4. New York is the first U.S. state to require mandatory testing.
You won’t have to get a test if you’re passing through New York to reach a final destination and are only staying in the Empire State for less than 24 hours.
New Jersey And Connecticut Travel Restrictions
New Jersey and Connecticut, the other two-thirds of the Tri-States quarantine, are not copying New York’s mandatory testing policy—yet. But these two states continue to require a 14-day quarantine for most incoming travelers.
As of November 12, 2020, New Jersey and Connecticut require a quarantine for 45 states and U.S. jurisdictions. Essentially, any state that doesn’t border New Jersey or Connecticut is subject to quarantine. Bordering states won’t quarantine to protect local commerce.
Affected states can leave the required quarantine list once their infection rates drop below one of these thresholds:
- A positive case rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents
- Higher than 10% positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average
Visitors coming from a country with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice will need to self-isolate too.
New England Travel Restrictions
The New England states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) have a regional travel bubble. Each state has a 14-day self-quarantine order, but with different policies and exemptions.
Massachusetts has the strictest measures as only those coming from “lower-risk” states don’t have to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative test result. Exempt states include:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New York
Maine also has strict measures. You will need to obtain a valid PCR or antigen test within 72 hours before arrival. Incoming travelers from New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts are exempt from the quarantine. As of November 04, 2020, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents are no longer exempt.
Ohio And Kentucky
Both Ohio and Kentucky advise incoming travelers to quarantine for 14 days when coming from a state with a positivity rate above 15%. Approximately 13 states have a high rate.
There isn’t a statewide travel ban in Illinois, but Chicago has a 14-day mandatory quarantine for select high-risk states. Each U.S. state and territory is assigned a red, orange or yellow advisory.
A red advisory requires a 14-day quarantine upon entering Chicago. Orange advisories also have a 14-day quarantine that you can waive with a pre-arrival negative PCR test.
A yellow advisory is only for the “lower risk” states and territories. A quarantine or pre-arrival test isn’t necessary.
Alaska is easing its incoming entry requirements. Visitors must either quarantine for 14 days or have a negative PCR test result. Previously, long-term visitors needed to take a follow-up test one week after arriving, but that’s no longer necessary.
Also, residents that only leave the state for 72 hours or less won’t need to test or quarantine upon arrival. The previous threshold was 24 hours or less to avoid the restriction.
Hawaii re-opened for tourism on October 15, 2020, with the launching of its pre-travel testing program. By taking a valid PCR test before arriving in Hawaii, you can waive the mandatory 14-day quarantine. You will need to complete a “Safe Travels” form online before arriving.
Most inter-island travel is subject to quarantine as well. If you travel to Hawaii, you may decide to stay at one resort for your stay to avoid potential travel restriction confusion.
The Canadian border remains closed to Americans for non-essential travel. The land border is tentatively scheduled to reopen on November 21, 2020, but is likely to extend another 30 days as is the case since spring.
You cannot fly to Canada in most cases. Two exemptions include being a Canadian citizen or visiting an immediate family member that is a Canadian resident. You will need to quarantine for 14 days if you are eligible to fly into Canada.
Mexico is one of the best options for international travel. The land border is closed for non-essential travel through at least November 21, 2020. However, you can fly to Mexico without restrictions. The best option can be flying to a beach resort like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas.
Many Caribbean islands are open but have strict entry requirements. Plan on showing proof of a negative PCR test and having to get a special traveler’s health insurance if you need medical attention. Note that the travel restrictions for these tiny islands can change quickly, though.
For now, consider these islands to visit the Caribbean:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Dominican Republic
- Saint Lucia
There are some glimmers of hope in Latin America for opening its borders after several delays. Similar to the Caribbean, plan on taking a negative PCR test to gain entry into these nations:
- Costa Rica
Argentina remains off-limits to tourists and has the strictest travel measures in South America.
A handful of countries in central and eastern Europe are open to U.S. travelers. Friendly countries include Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia.
Other European nations are open to citizens of nearby European countries. Much of western Europe and the United Kingdom are back in lockdown, delaying a European trip until 2021.
Asia And Oceania
Going to Asia for tourism and essential business is very difficult for the foreseeable future.
Currently, ten flights each week fly from the U.S. to China. However, a special permit to enter China and Hong Kong is required. If you have citizenship with either destination, you must also apply for a permit.
Most smaller Asian countries are closed to most foreign travel. The same goes for Australia and New Zealand that have sealed their borders to unessential travel.
If you can get there, the Maldives is one exotic travel destination open for tourism. You will need to have a negative PCR test within 96 hours before arrival. Once you arrive, you must stay at the same registered resort for your stay.
Africa can also be a difficult continent to reach during these times. In a surprising twist, South Africa is in the process of reopening its borders to leisure seekers. However, President Cyril Ramaphosa hasn’t announced a firm date yet.
Since October 1, 2020, travelers from select lower-risk countries could enter South Africa by taking a pre-travel test within 72 hours of arrival.
Case counts are increasing in pockets across the U.S. and the world. While you may avoid these destinations, other states and countries are easing their entry requirements as pre-travel testing becomes more accessible. As always, stay safe as you travel or relax at home.