Americans who are fully vaccinated can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for COVID-19 or being forced into quarantine, says the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which updated its official travel guidance on Friday (Apr. 2).
The update, which you can view here, states that fully vaccinated travellers “are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.”
The update comes as the CDC reports that more than 100 million people in the U.S. – roughly 30 per cent of the population – have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their last required dose.
The CDC is still, however, emphasizing that international travel poses “additional risks” and that even fully vaccinated travellers are “at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants.”
Unvaccinated people are still being advised by the CDC to avoid unnecessary travel.
"While we believe that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, CDC is not recommending travel at this time due to the rising number of cases," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at a press briefing on Friday.
The U.S. began its vaccine rollout in mid-December and, to date, roughly 56 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, health officials said.
Canada, by comparison, has fully vaccinated about 4.5 million people, according to this online tracker published by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
What the update says
The CDC’s updated advisory for fully vaccinated travellers says:
- You should continue following the CDC’s recommendations for travelling safely and get tested three-five days after travel.
- You do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
- You do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
The CDC is still advising fully vaccinated travellers to continue wearing a mask (including on airplanes and other modes of transportation), avoid crowds, stay at least six feet/two meters away from others and wash their hands often.
All air passengers entering the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are still required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before they board a flight to the U.S., the CDC says.
Removing a "key barrier"
The U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, on Friday, called the CDC's decision a "major step" in the right direction.
“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," said Dow in a statement.
“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."
The update comes following a March 22 request from U.S. airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and other trade groups, that urged the CDC to update its guidance to say “vaccinated individuals can travel safely.”
In February, the CDC announced that quarantining, in the U.S., is not required for fully-vaccinated people within three months of having received their last doses as long as they do not show symptoms.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!