By Laura Dannen Redman
Jun 25, 2020
Photo by Michael Browning/unsplash
if you want to visit Maine this summer, you’ll probably need to fill out some paperwork.
Some states are actively encouraging travelers to come; other states are seeing spikes in COVID-19. You could get whiplash from all the rule changes—but does that mean you have to stay home this summer? Not necessarily. It is forecasted that Americans will take 700 million trips this July through September. That number is down 15 percent compared to last year, but “booking trends show that Americans are making travel plans, though cautiously and more spur of the moment.”
We’re actively reaching out to local and state tourism boards and following the latest recommendations of the CDC to give you the most up-to-date information about traveling—safely, responsibly—across the United States right now. Here’s what we know:
What questions should you ask before taking a trip?
Per the CDC, you should do this quiz before leaving your community:
- Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going? (You can get infected while traveling.)
- Is COVID-19 spreading in your community? (Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could spread the virus to others while traveling.)
- Will you or those you’re traveling with be within six feet of others during your trip? (That is, are you going to socially distance from others? It’s a good idea.)
- Are you or those you’re traveling with more likely to get very ill from COVID-19?
- Do you live with someone who’s more likely to get very sick?
- Does the state or local government where you live—or at your destination—require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling? (More on that below.)
- Are you sick? (STAY HOME.)
Are you in the clear? These are the states with declining cases of COVID-19, as of June 25.
Johns Hopkins University has been tracking COVID-19 publicly since January 22, and its world map, U.S. map, and critical trends graph have become our go-to sources for new coronavirus cases. In the infographic below, the greener the background, the bigger the downward trend of new cases in this state—specifically, Alabama, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. This snapshot is from June 25 but it’s updated regularly on coronavirus.jhu.edu.
These states have seen recent spikes in COVID-19 cases:
The redder the background, the bigger the upward trend of new cases in this state.
“Seven states are reporting new highs for current coronavirus hospitalizations—Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas—as the number of infections continues to climb across the South and West,” reports the Washington Post. “More than 800 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the United States on Tuesday, the first time fatalities have increased since June 7.”
Which states have quarantines, and what does that mean?
If you plan to visit Alaska . . . you have to do one of three things: complete a traveler declaration form and arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test; get a test when you arrive in Alaska and self-quarantine until you have the results; or self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of your trip, whichever is shorter. Read more in our story Can We Travel to Alaska This Summer? and at covid19.alaska.gov/travelers.
If you plan to visit Florida and you’re from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Louisiana . . . you’ll be asked to quarantine for 14 days, “or for the duration of their presence in the state, whichever is shorter. Airport screenings and roadside checkpoints are set up to check for potential COVID-19 cases,” according to an executive order issued by Governor Ron DeSantis that’s still in effect. Read the full story on Florida travel restrictions.
Article continues below advertisement
If you plan to visit Hawaii . . . you have to self-quarantine for 14 days. But starting August 1, visitors to Hawaii who provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving can avoid the otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine that has been in place since March 26, AFAR’s Michelle Baran reports. Read the full story.
If you plan to visit Maine (and you’re not from Vermont or New Hampshire) . . . you’ll be asked to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, or sign a Certificate of Compliance that says you received a negative test result for COVID-19 within three days of getting to Maine. If you’re staying at a hotel, short-term rental, or campground, the host will either provide you with the form to fill out in advance or at check-in, and you will be asked to submit the form when you check in. Check “Keep Maine Healthy FAQs” for the latest information.
If you plan to visit Massachusetts . . . you have to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival. You may see one of these signs as you drive along I-90 or around Boston. Massachusetts is in phase 2 of reopening, which means lodging is available with restrictions (they will likely tell you about the 14-day quarantine when you make a reservation or check in).
Article continues below advertisement
If you plan to visit New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut . . . and you’re coming from a current viral hot spot—Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas, as of June 24—you will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and face fines ($2,000–$10,000) and mandatory quarantine if you break isolation. “The quarantine will apply to any state where 10 of every 100,000 people test positive on a rolling seven-day basis, or where the positivity rate in the total population is 10 percent, also on a seven-day rolling basis,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
For all states, it’s worth checking the latest COVID-19 information on their sites before booking anything.
How are you going to travel?
“Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” reports the CDC. “We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. These are also places where it can be hard to social distance.”
One last thought
As avid and responsible travelers, we’re all worried about the same things above all—the safety and health of the global village that has become inextricably linked by this international public health crisis. As we wait and watch to see how different governments respond to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s also important for travelers to be real and honest with themselves regarding what they are comfortable with and the ways in which they can and would travel that will minimize their impact when moving through the world.