Good news for those itching to travel in 2021 and are already fully vaccinated or are in the process of doing so: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Americans who are fully vaccinated can travel “at low risk to themselves,” both domestically and internationally. According to the new CDC Domestic Travel During COVID-19 guidance, fully vaccinated travelers must continue to take precautions, such as wearing a face mask in public, maintaining social distancing and washing hands frequently.
This news follows the CDC’s report on March 29 that said “Messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.” In other words, “authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are effective for preventing SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in real-world conditions.”
In addition to the OK to travel, according to the guidance, fully vaccinated Americans do not have to quarantine upon arrival back in the U.S.—unless required to by local jurisdictions. The CDC adds that fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel, either, unless their destination requires it. Whether they must quarantine upon arrival in their international destination still relies on the regulations of the other country.
Eben Peck, executive vice president, advocacy at the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), in a statement said: “We welcome the CDC’s new guidance that fully vaccinated Americans can resume domestic travel without additional testing or quarantines, something we have called for time and again. For well over a year, various CDC orders intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have created confusion and uncertainty among travelers, a chilling effect on future bookings and innumerable other challenges for our travel agency members. We are pleased to see some movement in the right direction.
“While this announcement is welcome, more needs to be done. Since the CDC has determined that fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, logic dictates that additional rules also be relaxed, including restrictions on cruise travel and the rule requiring Americans returning from overseas to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding their return flight."
In another statement, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow said, “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. As travel comes back, U.S. jobs come back.
“The CDC’s data suggests that vaccinated individuals don’t transmit the coronavirus, which opens the door much wider for resuming travel, albeit while continuing to carefully follow other health best practices. 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."
Important note: A person is only fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final vaccine dose (the first and only for Johnson & Johnson or the second for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna).
The recent updates for fully vaccinated travelers do not change the guidelines for those who remain unvaccinated or have not hit the two-week mark after their final dose. These Americans are still discouraged from non-essential domestic travel; if they must, a test before the trip and after, along with a self-quarantine of seven to 10 days upon returning home are still recommended.
It’s also important to note that these new guidelines do not alter any foreign regulations regarding letting Americans visit their country; in many cases, such as across Europe, Americans remain banned from entry.