Here we are approaching the opening weeks of fall and looking to travel and enjoy the cooler temps. It’s possible to travel across the United States and a few pockets of the world. As is the theme of traveling in 2020, you will need to see if you must self-quarantine upon arrival.
The most wide-reaching mandatory self-quarantine in the continental United States is the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut “tri-state quarantine.”
This list updates continually as the number of positives cases and tests for each state change. For most of the summer, approximately 30 states and territories are on the list at any time.
Below is the current list of restricted states (as of 9/15/2020):
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
If arriving from one of these states and staying for at least one night, you must complete a Traveler Health Form. The airline will provide the form if you’re flying into the tri-states. Amtrak and hotels can also provide the document. There’s a potential $2,000 fine if you don’t submit the form.
After filling out the form, you will need to either self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of your stay, whichever is shorter.
Visitors to Connecticut can opt-out of the 14-day quarantine by having a valid negative PCR test result within 72 hours of arrival. New York and New Jersey currently do not have this opt-out option.
The various New England states have a self-quarantine order of some kind. These orders might impact your plans for a fall foliage tour. You can most likely avoid the quarantine if you’re visiting from an adjacent state. Some of the New England states with the stricter self-quarantine orders include:
- Rhode Island
New Hampshire has the most lenient of the self-quarantine orders. If arriving from outside the New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont), the state requests that you self-quarantine for two weeks.
The Hawaii quarantine doesn’t appear to be going away soon and continues to renew on a monthly basis. The current quarantine expiration date will most likely extend beyond the current October 1, 2020, end date.
Hawaii’s quarantine is more rigorous than New York’s as it’s a criminal offense to violate the mandatory 14-day quarantine. If going, you will need to self-quarantine in your lodging for the first 14 days.
As early as October 1, 2020, Hawaii plans on offering visitors to opt-out of the self-quarantine by having a negative PCR test from within 72 hours of arrival. This option was initially supposed to launch in July, and the rollout date continues to extend, like the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.
As new daily case counts are still relatively high in Hawaii, there’s also self-quarantine required for most interisland travel, though you won’t have to self-quarantine if going to Oahu. However, you must self-quarantine if traveling between Kauai, Hawaii Island or Maui County (Maui, Molokai, Lanai).
It also appears that tourism authorities are exploring the concept of “resort bubbles.” Kauai is the first island to receive government approval for this travel option. You can avoid the mandatory quarantine by staying within the resort limits. You will need to wear a GPS monitor to verify that you don’t leave the bubble.
Canada’s land border most likely won’t reopen until November at the earliest. According to anonymous U.S. and Canadian officials, the opening may not be until after Thanksgiving holiday weekend (11/26-11/29).
But, we don’t know the potential effects of winter weather and the pandemic spread. It’s likely that the border won’t fully reopen until 2021 for distant travelers.
Foreign nationals can only fly to Canada for essential reasons or if they’re an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
We might see the Mexico and U.S. land border opening again soon. The rolling land border closure currently expires on September 21, 2020. There isn’t an extension announcement yet, but the U.S. State Departments reduced Mexico from Travel Advisory Level 4 “Do Not Travel” to Level 3 “Reconsider Travel.”
If the land border opens for non-essential travel, you should still research the local policies as some Mexican states are more welcome to tourism than others.
For now, the best way to access Mexico continues to be flying to beach destinations, including Cancun, Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. There isn’t a mandatory quarantine, and you most likely won’t have to provide a negative PCR test result.
It’s also possible to fly to most Caribbean islands from the United States. Some of the more friendly islands include:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St. Bart’s
- St. Lucia
- St. Martin
- Turks and Caicos
Many Caribbean destinations require prior approval before you can enter. You will most likely need to produce a negative PCR test result to get permission to enter the island nation too.
It would be best if you avoided the Bahamas at this time as there is a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine unless you have a valid negative PCR test result. The Bahamas also require you to apply for a Health Visa before you arrive.
Some parts of Latin America are open to non-essential travel. Colombia will start accepting limited international flights on September 21, 2020. The Belize International Airport is anticipating an October 1, 2020, reopening date.
As much of Latin America has strict limits, most countries are not open to international travel. It’s best to avoid much of Latin America at this time as unessential travel isn’t welcome.
Much of Europe is off-limits to Americans as the United States isn’t on the EU safe travel list yet. Many EU bloc countries, including Spain, are seeing an uptick in cases. You might be able to fly directly from the United States to Balkan nations like Albania and Croatia.
You might enter a bordering country or the western bloc if you’re staying on the continent for an extended period to avoid the 14-day self-quarantine requirement.
A trip to the Holy Land this fall might need to wait. Israel announced nighttime closures as part of a second lockdown that will last at least three weeks. This new travel ban comes as religious travel kicks into high gear for numerous pilgrimages.
Although it’s one of the more challenging places to reach, flying to the Maldives is one distant world destination worth traveling to. You will need to stay at a qualifying resort island without a mandatory quarantine, but you will also need to prove a negative PCR test result.
For additional peace of mind, you may appreciate that the Maldives has a Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Traveling to local states or a Mexican beach are your best travel options for a short getaway that doesn’t require a mandatory quarantine. Otherwise, the travel bans today are similar to early summer when the world began reopening.
Can I Fly To Canada Now?
Canada is only open to air travel for essential reasons. You might also be able to enter if you’re a qualifying immediate family member for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Going to Canada for tourism isn’t going to happen soon. The U.S. and Canada land borders may not reopen until November or later.
Do I Need To Self-Quarantine After Flying In The United States?
In most cases, you do not need to self-quarantine on domestic U.S. flights. There are some exceptions, as each state has different requirements. For example, you will need to self-quarantine for the duration of your stay up to 14 days if flying into Hawaii or New York. Other states in the northeastern United States have similar policies.
Is The Maldives Open For Tourism?
Yes, the Maldives is one of the few international travel destinations open for tourism.
There are some caveats for your next exotic beach trip:
- Must stay at one approved resort for your entire stay
- Will submit a Health Declaration Form listing your stay details
- Must present a negative PCR test result (effective September 10, 2020)
As always, you should travel if you exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with an infected person within the last 14 days.