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Can I travel to other states during Christmas? US travel restrictions by state

State authorities are able to make their own coronavirus travel rules with quarantines, self-isolation and negative covid-19 tests required for entry in some areas.

State authorities are able to make their own coronavirus travel rules with quarantines, self-isolation and negative covid-19 tests required for entry.
Stefano GuidiGetty Images

The festive period is normally one of the busiest times of the year for the nation’s freeways, airports and public transport services as Americans travel to spend time with friends and relatives. However as covid-19 case numbers continue to rise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people keep travel to a minimum to limit the risk of infection.

Thanksgiving saw the greatest increase in US air travel since the pandemic began, with over 1.1 million flying on Sunday 29 November alone. This is believed to have been a factor in the spiralling case numbers that we are now seeing and a number of states have tightened their travel restrictions to prevent a repeat.

New covid guidelines in place for Christmas gatherings

New state-wide restrictions introduced to curb festive travel

As the situation in the US has worsened in recent weeks more states have introduced travel controls. In November there were state-wide restrictions in 18 states but that has swelled to 22 as California, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington State add their own rules. Of course this still leaves 28 states without any travel restrictions imposed, with some of the states with the highest infection rates (such as North Dakota) still yet to do so.

There is no nationwide uniformity as states are free to choose their own rules on travel but it is fair to say that there has been a general heightening of precautions in recent weeks. As well as those four states imposing conditions on movement many states with travel restrictions already in place have tightened the rules. In some areas this has seen quarantines go from voluntary to mandatory, and negative covid-19 tests becoming a requirement to enter the state.

If you are considering crossing state borders this month it is also worth considering what additional coronavirus rules are in place. Even in states where restrictions have not been imposed on travel, there may be mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces (Alabama) or limits placed on public gatherings (Michigan).

Full list of state travel restriction in the US

The state-by-state rules on travel are constantly up for review as officials battle to keep the infection rate down, but here's what to expect in the states who have imposed their own restrictions. Unless otherwise stated, negative covid-19 tests must be dated within the previous 72 hours of arrival in the state. It is always worth checking with official state sources before embarking on a journey.

Alaska – Non-residents entering the state must either: provide a negative covid-19 test; follow an employer work plan; or buy a covid-19 test on arrival and quarantine until receiving the results.

California – All arrivals should quarantine for two weeks and limit interactions to their immediate household.

Connecticut – A 14-day quarantine is required if entering from 40 states (not Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., amongst others), unless you have a negative covid-19 test.

Hawaii – Anyone over the age of five must produce a negative test on arrival or undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Idaho – Ada County, Idaho is encouraging visitors to quarantine for 14 days, although this is not yet compulsory.

Illinois – Chicago now employs a three-tier colour system (red, orange and yellow), insisting that entrants from a red state (Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming) must quarantine for 14 days. Anyone from an orange state also has the option of providing a negative covid-19 test.

Kansas – Mandatory 14-day quarantine for people who have taken a cruise since 15 March; attended an out-of-state mass gathering (over 500 people); visited North Dakota between 17 October and 17 November, or South Dakota between 4 November and 17 November; or travelled to or from Belgium or the Czech Republic.

Kentucky – Arrivals from a state with infection rate of over 15% should quarantine for 14 days.

Maine – 14-day quarantine or negative covid-19 test for all entrants, except residents of New Hampshire or Vermont.

Massachusetts - 14-day quarantine of negative covid-19 test for all entrants except arrivals from Hawaii.

Minnesota – Visitors asked to complete 14-day quarantine.

New Hampshire – Entrants from non-New England states (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) must quarantine for 14 days. They can also get a PCR test after a week to end quarantine if negative.

New Jersey – Arrivals staying in New Jersey for longer than 24 hours must quarantine for 14 days. However anyone from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Delaware can instead complete an online survey.

New Mexico – Visitors must quarantine for 14 days, even if they have a negative covid-19 test.

New York – Arrivals from states that do not border on New York must quarantine for 14 days, but can ‘test out’ with two negative tests: three days before and three days after arrival.

Ohio – Entrants from Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin must quarantine for 14 days.

Oregon – All arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days.

Pennsylvania – Anyone over the age of 11 must quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of a negative covid-19 test.

Rhode Island - Arrivals from states with a positive testing rate of over 5% must quarantine for 14 days, or provide a negative coronavirus test.

Vermont – 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving, although they can end this after 7 days by taking a covid-19 test.

Washington DC – Arrivals from a high-risk state and staying for over 24 hours must show a negative covid-19 test on arrival, and then another after three-five days.

Washington State – Residents encouraged not to travel and arrivals from out-of-state asked to self-isolate for 14 days.


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