En español | To keep the coronavirus outbreak from spreading through their boundaries, many states have asked or required out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine upon arrival. Those restrictions are easing; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) now says that people who are fully vaccinated (two weeks after receiving the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) can safely resume travel within the U.S. They are no longer required to quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans vaccinated has been rising quickly in recent weeks: half of all U.S. adults had received at least one dose by April 18, including about 81 percent of people 65 and up, according to the CDC. But states are responding differently to the changing pandemic situation when it comes to their quarantine policies for travelers (see state-specific rules below).
Maryland, Ohio, Washington, New York and Connecticut, for example, have lifted their quarantine requirements for domestic travel (many states still have rules for international travelers); they instead ask visitors and residents to follow CDC travel guidance. Alaska no longer threatens fines of up to $25,000 for those who don’t follow its COVID-19 rules (including arriving with proof of a negative COVID-19 test), which are now framed as strong recommendations rather than requirements.
Massachusetts and Oregon are are among the states that still have quarantine rules, but are now exempting those who have been fully vaccinated.
Some states base their rules on where a traveler is arriving from, but their determinations of whether other states are “high risk” can be wildly different, depending on their criteria. For example, the District of Columbia currently considers 12 states to be high risk, while Rhode Island considers more than 20 states to be in that category. Confusing matters further: A city might have its own quarantine rules, separate from its state’s. Chicago, for instance, has strict quarantine rules for travelers but Illinois does not.
“There is no uniform message across the states, and that’s extremely difficult for travelers,” says Jan L. Jones, professor of hospitality and tourism at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. “I can’t even navigate it.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people who are fully vaccinated can “safely travel within the U.S.” After travel they should watch for symptoms of COVID-19, and follow state and local requirements. Other guidance:
- Everyone (including those who are fully vaccinated) should continue to wear masks in public and follow other infection prevention measures, such as frequent hand-washing social distancing.
- Delay internatonal travel until you are fully vaccinated, then consult the CDC’s recommendations by country and check the current COVID-19 situation in your destination.
- Everyone (including those who are fully vaccinated) needs to be tested before returning to the U.S. from another country, and should get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after returning from international travel. Unvaccinated people should self-quarantine for 7 days with a negative test and for 10 days if they don’t get tested (those who are fully vaccinated do not need to self-quarantine with a negative test).
- Unvaccinated travelers should also get tested 3-5 days after returning from domestic travel, then self-quarantine for 7 days with a negative test and for 10 days if they don’t get tested.
Who can go where?
Here is a guide for those destinations that require, request or suggest certain visitors to quarantine. Unless otherwise stated, the quarantine rules noted below require isolation for 14 days or the duration of the stay — whichever is shorter. States that offer the option of submitting a negative COVID-19 test typically require it to have been taken within 72 hours of the visitor’s arrival in the state. There are often exceptions for essential workers; check each state’s official website for details.
(Note: For a full list of states’ coronavirus-related regulations, including rules for facial coverings, see AARP's guide)
- Alaska: The state recently eased its restrictions. Nonresidents and residents entering the state still must fill out a traveler declaration form on the Alaska Travel Portal that lists where they’ve traveled in the previous two weeks, and are asked to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure (bring a printed copy to have on hand when you land). Vaccinated travelers should get tested for COVID-19 but do not need to follow strict social distancing while they are awaiting test results. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has just announced that starting June 1 any tourist arriving at a major airport in the state will be able to receive a vaccination free of charge. Questions related to upcoming travel and testing/quarantine guidance for coming into Alaska can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact (907) 646-3322.
Penalties: Fine of up to $25,000
- California: The California Department of Public Health asks residents to avoid nonessential travel until they are fully vaccinated, and then to follow CDC guidance. Those who are unvaccinated who must travel should get tested 1-3 days before travel, and 3-5 days after travel. After travel, they should self-quarantine for 7 days, even if their tests are negative. Those who don’t get tested, should self-quarantine for 10 days. Non-essential travelers from other states or countries for tourism or recreation are strongly discouraged from entering California. Those who do, including returning California residents, are asked to quarantine, as detailed above.
- District of Columbia: Washington, D.C., has loosened many of its restrictions, but still requires anyone (resident or visitor) traveling for nonessential purposes from certain high-risk states where the “seven-day moving average daily new COVID-19 case rate is 10 or more per 100,000 persons” to have been tested for COVID-19 (and received a negative result) within 72 hours of arrival, then be tested again three to five days after arrival in the city (Virginia and Maryland are exempt). The alternative is to limit activities and self-monitor for 10 days or the length of their stay. Those who have been fully vaccinated, and are within 90 days of their last dose, are exempt from testing and quarantine requirements.
Penalties: Include potential fines (amount not specified) or summary suspension or revocation of licenses
- Hawaii: All travelers (residents and visitors alike) need to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their arrival in Hawaii. They should upload it when registering online through the Safe Travels system, which will generate a QR code that can be scanned at the airport (a paper copy is recommended as a backup). Anyone arriving without a negative test — even those who’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 — must quarantine for 10 days (or the duration of their trip), “without exception.” Note that it must be an FDA-approved nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) from a trusted testing site. There are inter-island quarantine requirements that are explained on the state’s website. Islands such as Kauai and Maui have their own requirements; check their sites for details.
Penalties: Violating the order is a criminal offense and subject to up to a $5,000 fine and/or a year’s imprisonment.
- Illinois: There are no statewide quarantine orders. Chicago has its own 10-day quarantine mandate for anyone arriving from one of the many states it considers high-risk, included on its Orange list (a colored map is kept on the city’s website). Visitors from those states can offer proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival as an alternative to quarantine. The city allows an exemption for those who have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to arrival.
Penalties: Violators in Chicago are subject to fines of $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000.
- Kansas: Kansans must quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled on or after April 8 to Connecticut or Pennsylvania; on or after March 12 to New Jersey or New York; or on or after March 26 to Delaware, Michigan or Rhode Island; or have “attended/traveled to mass gathering events out-of-state of 500 people or greater where individuals do not socially distance (6 feet) and wear masks.” (There are also requirements for residents returning from cruising and international travel.) Those in quarantine should monitor symptoms and “should not attend school, work or any other setting where they are not able to maintain about a 6-foot distance from other people.” They can shorten their quarantine by taking a COVID-19 test on day 6; if the test is negative, they can be removed from quarantine on day 8, following CDC guidance. The state exempts those who have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before arrival.
Penalties: Violating the order is a Class C misdemeanor, with fines from $25 to $100.
- Kentucky: The state is discouraging all non-essential travel unless you are fully vaccinated. Those who aren’t vaccinated should follow CDC guidance.
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- Maine: Visitors are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or opt to self-quarantine for 10 days. They now also need to fill out a certificate of compliance, assuring that they will follow the rules, and submit it to their place of lodging. Travelers from other New England states are exempt, as are individuals who have had COVID-19 in the previous 90 days or are fully vaccinated against COVID. People who are not residents of Maine will be asked to sign a "Certificate of Compliance" if they seek lodging, indicating that they’ve tested negative and have plans to quarantine. Maine plans to lift many of its restrictions for visitors on May 1.
Penalties: “Punishment of up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and the payment of civil damages to the State for its costs associated with testing, investigating, contact tracing, and otherwise determining the extent of COVID-19 transmission.”
- Massachusetts: Travelers entering the state (including returning residents) for longer than 24 hours are asked to self-quarantine for 10 days (or the length of their stay, if shorter) or show a negative result from a COVID test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. Those who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days (and less than 90 days) prior to their arrival do not need to offer proof of testing or quarantine.
Penalties: Failure to complete the form or quarantine may result in a fine of $500 a day.
- Minnesota: The state suggests that incoming visitors and residents returning from other states quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and to watch for symptoms; if they are fully vaccinated, they don’t need to quarantine but should still watch for symptoms). More details on the state’s quarantine guidance are online.
- New Hampshire: Visitors from within the U.S. are no longer required to quarantine upon arrival, though all are asked to follow CDC travel guidance. A 10-day quarantine is required of visitors from outside the U.S. and residents returning from international travel.
- New Jersey: The state strongly discourages all nonessential interstate travel. Those who do visit and residents returning from anywhere outside the region (beyond New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware) are asked to “consider getting tested with a viral test (not an antibody test) 1 to 3 days before the trip and again 3 to 5 days after the trip.” If they test negative, they should still quarantine for 7 days. If they test positive or can’t get tested, they should quarantine for at least 10 days. The website adds, “At this time, individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should continue to follow the State’s travel advisory.”
Penalties: None. The guidelines are “voluntary, but compliance is expected.”
- New Mexico: Travelers arriving in New Mexico, including returning residents, from states deemed high-risk based on COVID-positivity rates (as depicted on the state’s official map) are no longer required to self-quarantine for two weeks or the length of their stay. Now travelers from anywhere outside the state are “strongly advised” to self-quarantine for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival in New Mexico.
- New York: Asymptomatic travelers are no longer required to test or quarantine. But all unvaccinated domestic travelers who have not recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after arrival in New York, consider non-mandated self-quarantine (7 days if tested on day 3-5, otherwise 10 days), and avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for 14 days, regardless of test result. All travelers (including those who are fully vaccinated) should immediately self-isolate if any symptoms develop and contact the local public health authority or their health care provider to determine if they should seek testing. All travelers also should fill out the state’s health form, unless you’ve left New York for less than 24 hours or are coming to New York from a contiguous state (i.e., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont). International travelers should follow CDC guidelines. If you have questions, you can call 888-364-3065 or email.
Penalties: The state reserves the right to issue a mandatory quarantine order if needed. Violators may be subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 15 days of imprisonment.
- Oregon: The state recommends a two-week quarantine for returning residents and visitors from out of state (meaning they “should limit their interactions to their immediate household), unless they are fully vaccinated.
- Rhode Island: If you are coming to Rhode Island from a state with a COVID-19 positivity rate of greater than 5 percent — the list is updated regularly — or international travel you must self-quarantine for 10 days. If you have a negative result from a test taken no more than 72 hours before your arrival or 5 days after you arrived, you may shorten your quarantine to 7 days. Those who have been vaccinated at least 14 days prior to and less than 90 days before arrival are exempt.
Penalties: No more than $100 for the first violation
- Vermont: Except for international travel, travel no longer requires quarantine. Unvaccinated Vermonters who have traveled outside the state must be tested within 3 days of returning to Vermont. Unvaccinated people planning to visit Vermont must have a COVID-19 test within 3 days before arriving in Vermont. Follow the CDC’s guidance for international travel.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on July 31, 2020. It's been updated to reflect recent quarantine rules.
Christina Ianzito is the travel and books editor for aarp.org and AARP The Magazine, and also edits and writes health, entertainment and other stories for aarp.org. She received a 2020 Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing.