Restrictions & Guidelines for Traveling During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the holiday season approaches, be sure you understand the COVID-19 rules and restrictions for the city you're visiting so you can enjoy your vacation.


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Updated 4 November 2021
Restrictions & Guidelines for Traveling During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Sections on this page
  1. International Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  2. Domestic Travel During the Coronavirus Pandemic
  3. Flights During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  4. Enjoy Your Vacation & Stay Safe

With traveling becoming less restricted and the holiday period coming up, it's essential to know how to keep you and your family safe during your vacation and what rules are in place when traveling. The last thing you want is for your vacation to be ruined because you were unaware of the various rules that airlines, states, and local businesses have in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The CDC has several recommendations and restrictions when it comes to international travel for U.S. citizens and residents. They offer five levels of categories: 

  • Level Unknown: COVID-19 Unknown 
    • Recommended that you avoid travel to these destinations, but if you must, be fully vaccinated. 
  • Level 1: COVID-19 Low
    • It is recommended that you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations.
  • Level 2: COVID-19 Moderate
    • Recommended that you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations and only travel if necessary. 
  • Level 3: COVID-19 High
    • Avoid traveling to these destinations if you are unvaccinated.
  • Level 4: COVID-19 Very High
    • It is recommended that you avoid going to any of these destinations. 

These categories are based on how prevalent COVID-19 is found in each of these destinations based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Before buying a ticket overseas, check out the CDC's interactive world map and see the organization's recommendation for travel to your destination. 

Returning to the U.S. 

When you're coming home to the U.S., you'll need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before you'll be allowed home. This applies to anyone in your family over two years old. 

  • Fully vaccinated people: Get a negative test within three days before flying back to the U.S. You'll also need to prove that you're fully vaccinated. If you don't have your vaccine card, you'll need to get a COVID test within 24 hours before your departure time. 
  • Non-vaccinated people: Get a negative COVID test no more than 24 hours before your departure time. 

If you test positive for COVID-19 on your test, you'll need to delay your trip back to the U.S. until you get a negative result. Your airline will not allow you on the plane if your test is positive. 

Self-Test When You're Overseas

COVID-19 home tests are available to make it easier for you to test when overseas. You can test for COVID-19 in the comfort of your temporary home, but you'll need to make an appointment with a telehealth doctor who can confirm your identity and supervise the process. Without the supervision of a telehealth provider, your negative test result will not be accepted. 

You may also gain entry back into the U.S. using documentation of your recovery from coronavirus (if you had COVID-19 on your travels). You'll need the following documents:

  • Your positive COVID-19 test result (taken no more than 90 days before your flight home)
  • A letter stating you're cleared to travel from a licensed healthcare provider or public health official

Note that once you return to the U.S., you are required to provide an address where you can be contacted for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes.

Covid 19 Traveling Infographic

Domestic Travel During the Coronavirus Pandemic

If you're planning on visiting family and friends this holiday season or just wanted a getaway in another state, the CDC recommends that you get fully vaccinated from COVID-19 before traveling. 

Not only will being fully vaccinated help protect you from getting sick, but you come across restaurants and other public areas that require proof of vaccination before you're allowed entry. For example, if you plan on visiting New York City, you'll need proof of vaccination for any indoor activities, including dining, museums, and events. 

Look up COVID-19 restrictions for each city and state you plan to visit so you're well prepared. The last thing you want is to waste your money on a trip where you're unable to eat at a restaurant or take your kids to a show. 

 Federal Mask Mandates

It's currently required for all people aged two and over to wear a mask on public transport and at transportation hubs.

State-Wide COVID-19 Restrictions

In addition to the federal regulations, there are state-specific requirements also.

Note: Individual cities may have different requirements. Information as of November 1, 2021.

State COVID-19 Restrictions
Alabama None
Alaska None
Arizona Masks required in government buildings.
Arkansas None
California* Masks required for unvaccinated people:
  • In indoor public settings
  • In indoor workplaces
Masks required for everyone aged 2 years old and older in:
  • Schools
  • Health care and long-term care facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Public transport
  • Homeless and emergency shelters
Colorado Masks required in residential care facilities
Connecticut* Masks required for unvaccinated people in indoor public locations. Masks required in:
  • In health care facilities
  • In group residential settings
  • In school buildings
Delaware Masks required:
  • On public transport
  • At health care facilities
  • At schools
  • In government buildings
District of Columbia Masks required in all indoor public locations and public transport.
Florida None
Georgia* None
Hawaii Masks required for people aged 5 and over in most indoor public locations.
Idaho None
Illinois Masks required in indoor public locations.
Indiana Masks required:
  • In indoor public locations
  • At K-12 schools
  • In government buildings
Masks required outdoors when 6-feet distance cannot be maintained
Iowa None
Kansas* None
Kentucky Masks required for people aged 5 and over:
  • On public transport
  • At schools and childcare centers
  • At medical and health facilities
  • At prisons
  • At homeless shelters
Louisiana* Masks required:
  • On public transport
  • In health facilities
  • At K-12 schools
Maine Masks required for people aged 5 and over when indoors at:
  • Schools
  • Childcare facilities
Maryland* Masks required:
  • On public transport
  • In transit hubs
Massachusetts* Masks required for people aged 5 and over:
  • On public transport
  • In healthcare and long-term care facilities
  • At K-12 schools
  • In emergency shelters
  • At prisons
Michigan Masks required:
  • At long-term care facilities
  • At prisons
  • In housing for farmworkers
Minnesota Masks required in schools and childcare facilities.
Mississippi Masks required at K-12 schools.
Missouri None
Montana None
Nebraska* None
Nevada
  • Counties with high COVID-19 numbers: Masks required for people aged 9 and over in indoor public locations.
  • Counties with moderate or low COVID-19 numbers: Masks required for unvaccinated people only.
New Hampshire None
New Jersey Masks required for people aged 2 and over in:
  • Schools
  • Childcare centers
  • Summer camps
  • Government buildings
New Mexico Masks required in indoor public locations. 
New York* Masks required:
  • At healthcare and long-term care facilities
  • In schools
  • At detention centers 
  • At homeless shelters
  • At childcare centers
  • At group facilities
Businesses may require proof of vaccination. 
North Carolina* Masks required for people aged 5 and over:
  • In schools
  • At childcare facilities
North Dakota None
Ohio Masks required in healthcare and long-term care facilities.
Oklahoma None
Oregon Masks required for people aged 5 and over:
  • In most public indoor locations. 
  • In public outdoor settings when social distancing is impossible.
Pennsylvania Masks required:
  • In healthcare facilities
  • In long-term care facilities
  • At homeless shelters
  • At correctional facilities
Rhode Island None
South Carolina* None
South Dakota None
Tennessee None
Texas None
Utah None
Vermont Masks required:
  • In healthcare facilities
  • In long-term care facilities
Virginia Masks required in schools.
Washington* Masks required for people aged 5 and over:
  • In most indoor public locations
  • At outdoor events with more than 500 people
West Virginia Masks required:
  • At healthcare facilities
  • Schools
  • As required by businesses
Wisconsin* None
Wyoming None

*State has cities or local counties with different restrictions/requirements (see below).

Cities with COVID-19 Restrictions

City Requirement
Asheville, NC Masks required at public indoor locations.
Atlanta, GA Masks required at public indoor locations.
Baltimore, MD Masks required at public indoor locations.
Boston, MA Masks required at public indoor locations.
Boulder, CA Masks required at public indoor locations (unless proof of vaccination required by business). 
Charlotte, NC Masks required at public indoor locations.
Columbia, SC Masks required at public indoor locations and outdoor settings where social distancing is not possible.
Columbus Masks required at public indoor locations (except for state, federal, and religious buildings).
Dane County, WI Masks required at public indoor locations.
Durham, NC Masks required at public indoor locations.
Greensboro, NC Masks required at public indoor locations.
Hartford, CT Masks required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people at public indoor locations.
Juneau, AK Masks required for unvaccinated people at public indoor locations and large crowds outdoors
Kansas City, KS Masks required at public indoor locations.
Lincoln, NE Masks required at public indoor locations.
Los Angeles, CA Masks required at:
  • Public indoor locations
  • Large outdoor events
New Haven, CT Masks required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people at public indoor locations.
New Orleans, LA Proof of vaccinated required at indoor public locations. Use the L.A. Wallet app or vaccination record card (including photocopy or photo).
New York City, NY Proof of vaccinated required at indoor public locations. Use the NYC Covid Safe app, Excelsior Pass, or vaccination record card.
Philadelphia, PA Masks required at public indoor locations (unless business requires proof of vaccination). 
Prince George's County, MD Masks required at public indoor locations.
Raleigh, NC Masks required at public indoor locations.
Sacramento, CA Masks required at public indoor locations.
San Francisco, CA Proof of vaccination required at indoor public locations.
Springfield, MA Masks required at public indoor locations and outdoor gatherings where social distancing is not possible.

Flights During the COVID-19 Pandemic

If someone in your family ends up with COVID-19, you may need to cancel or reschedule your flights. Because of this, it's crucial that you understand what you're liable for should you need to cancel your trip last minute. 

Note: Other requirements may apply to each airline's policies. Please review your airline's travel policies in full before booking, canceling, or rescheduling flights.

Airline Change/Cancel Fees and Rules

As of November 3, 2021

Airline Change or Cancel
Alaska Airlines
  • Nonrefundable tickets: Get Travel Credit
  • Travel Credits expire 1 year from the date of issue.
American Airlines
  • Premium Cabin, Premium Economy, Main Cabin fares: No fees.
  • Basic Economy fares (purchased on or after 4/1/2021): Nonrefundable and non-changeable.
  • Change/cancellation fees apply to international flights originating outside North/South America and bought after 4/1/2021.
British Airways
  • Change: No fees
  • Cancel: No fees (Claim voucher to use for a future trip)
Delta Airlines
  • Flights from the U.S. (Main Cabin seats only): No fees 
  • Change Basic Economy travel (through December 31, 2021): No fees
  • Canceled tickets: Will become eCredit for you to use on another flight before your ticket expires.
JetBlue

Blue Basic Fares:

  • Tickets purchased from 8/25-10/31/2021 and before 6/7/2021: No fees.
  • Tickets purchased 6/8/2021 - 8/24/2021 and after 11/1/2021: $100/person (for travel within the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico, Central America)
  • $200/person (all other travel)

Blue, Blue Extra, Blue Plus, Mint fares: No fees

Hawaiian Airlines
  • No fees
Southwest Airlines
  • No fees.
  • Nonrefundable tickets: Can be applied for future travel.
  • Refundable tickets: Can be applied to future travel. 
United Airlines
  • Domestic travel: No change fees
  • Travel to Mexico or the Caribbean: No change fees
  • International tickets from the U.S.: No change fees
  • Travel originating from outside the U.S.: No change fees if purchased on or before 12/31/2021

Masks Required At All Times

Note that federal law requires masks to be worn at all times during your flight, including when you're boarding and deplaning. There are exemptions, however, including for those under 2 years old. Masks also can be removed when eating and drinking.  

Enjoy Your Vacation & Stay Safe

Kids five years and older can now get the COVID-19 vaccine, but how do you protect your kids who are younger than five or who aren't yet vaccinated? 

Following best practices is key to keeping your family safe from the virus while also enjoying your vacation:

  • Wear a mask when out in public: This includes everyone you're traveling with, including yourself and your children, regardless of if you're vaccinated or not. 
  • Avoid staying with large groups of people: Although you may be thinking of staying with family these holidays, living with other people can increase the risk of COVID-19 in you and your kids. 
  • Choose outdoor activities: This may be hard during the colder months. If you're limited to indoor activities, choose ones with good ventilation and fewer people. 
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Limit visits with your children who aren't vaccinated: Especially from those who are not vaccinated.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times: Kids love to touch things, so ensure you wash their hands and use hand sanitizer when you can't wash them. 
  • Carry proof of vaccination with you: This way, you won't be denied entry if a business requires proof.

Road Trip Safety Tips

  • Keep hand sanitizer and wet wipes in your car. 
  • Carry a mask and hand sanitizer with you at all times, just in case. 
  • Wipe down handles and buttons at gas pumps before pumping gas. 
  • Pre-book your campsites (some campsites may not be operating at full capacity. 
  • Buy some at-home coronavirus tests in case you get sick along the way. 
  • Stay flexible—you never know what may happen along the way.
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