Traveling in the era of COVID-19 means checking travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for your destination. The United States of America is one of many nations that has taken measures to counter the spread of coronavirus and this could affect visitors entering the country.
Many countries closed their borders earlier in the year and others advised against unnecessary travel. The good news for international travelers is that the US border is open to visitors from most countries.
All travelers arriving in the US are advised to isolate themselves for a predetermined length of time as a precaution. However, for certain individuals crossing the border, quarantine is mandatory.
Some US states have also implemented their own quarantine regulations, which affect travelers arriving from other states within the country as well as foreign visitors.
Quarantine Regulations for Travelers Entering the US
The United States of America has a number of travel restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and certain international travelers arriving in the US are obliged to self-isolate.
This is in addition to the usual travel requirements, such as obtaining a US visa, ESTA, and/or EVUS, depending on the nationality of the traveler. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China, for example, must complete a B1/B2 visa application and an EVUS form before going to the States.
One of the most severe travel restrictions is an entry ban on foreign nationals who have been in any of the following countries within the previous 2 weeks:
- Republic of Ireland
- United Kingdom
- Any country in the European Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland) or its associated microstates (Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
There are certain exceptions to this rule. Travelers in the following categories CAN enter the US if they have been in one of the countries listed above within 14 days of traveling, but must undergo 2 weeks of self-quarantine while monitoring their health:
- Permanent residents of the US
- Spouses of US citizens or permanent residents
- Immediate family members of US citizens or permanent residents
- US Armed Forces personnel and their families
- Passengers invited by the US government
- Certain other exempted travelers
US citizens who have been in one of the countries listed above must also quarantine themselves for 14 days after returning to the United States.
How Long Should I Self-Quarantine for if I’ve Been Exposed to COVID-19?
All travelers to the United States who suspect they have been in contact with someone who is infected with coronavirus should isolate themselves for 14 days. This is because the virus can take up to 2 weeks (and sometimes longer) to clear the patient’s system.
Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, you may still be infectious. Symptoms such as coughing, fever, and difficulty breathing do not manifest immediately after catching the virus, and some people do not display any symptoms.
To avoid accidentally spreading COVID-19, anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to coronavirus should self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
Which States Have Quarantine Rules for Travelers?
Many of the individual states that make up the US have also introduced their own quarantine rules. Some of these affect American nationals from other states as well as international travelers.
- Alaska – choice of 14-day self-quarantine or testing
- Connecticut – travelers from 19 states must self-quarantine for 14 days (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah).
- Florida – 2-week self-isolation for individuals from the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York
- Hawaii – all tourists arriving in the islands must self-isolate for 2 weeks (or show negative COVID-19 test after August 1).
- Idaho – 14-day self-quarantine (Boise and other cities in Ada County only)
- Illinois – people entering Chicago from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah must self-isolate for 2 weeks after leaving those states.
- Kansas – self-isolation for 14 days for travelers arriving from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, or South Carolina.
- Maine – 2-week self-quarantine or negative coronavirus test (residents of the states of Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont are exempt)
- Massachusetts – 14-day quarantine (except for travelers entering from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, or Vermont)
- New Hampshire – 14-day quarantine (except for New England residents)
- New Jersey – 14-day self-isolation for visitors from 19 states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah), regardless of any COVID-19 tests.
- New Mexico – 2-week self-quarantine for all travelers.
- New York – 14-day self-isolation for visitors from areas with a high number of COVID cases (including the following US states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah)
- Pennsylvania – quarantine for 14 days for visitors from regions with rising coronavirus figures, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
- Rhode Island – 2-week quarantine or testing for travelers coming from states with a test positivity rate of greater than 5 percent.
- South Carolina – 14-day self-isolation recommended for visitors from regions with high community transmission rates.
- Vermont – 14-day quarantine, with few exceptions.
- Wisconsin – residents are asked to cancel or postpone travel plans.
While quarantine is recommended for international travelers, it is not compulsory unless the individual falls into one of the categories mentioned above. All other international visitors are still free to enter the US.
Caution is advised during the pandemic and visitors should be sure to follow the local and national regulations regarding COVID-19 during their stay.
Dorothy Jones is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips with the audience.