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Guide to State Quarantine Rules for Travelers

Restrictions are increasing as COVID-19 continues to spread

man quarantined in a hotel room with his luggage nearby

Maskot/Getty Images

En español | To keep the coronavirus outbreak from spreading through their regions, many states are asking or requiring some or all out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 10 days to two weeks upon arrival. Rules and enforcement vary widely, but they are getting more restrictive as COVID-19 numbers spike across much of the country (see state-specific rules below).

Some states allow visitors in if they offer proof of a negative test for COVID-19 taken within three days of arrival. Because it takes longer than three days to get results at many testing sites around the country, officials may ask visitors to quarantine until they receive proof of a negative test.

Other states say a test isn’t a reliable substitute for quarantining. Plus, a city might have its own quarantine rules, separate from its state’s. (Example: Chicago has strict quarantine rules for travelers, but Illinois doesn’t.)

A few states are presenting their quarantine policies as recommendations, with no penalties for noncompliance. South Carolina doesn’t use the word “quarantine” in its travel guidance for residents but says, “If you have traveled in the past 14 days, please monitor your health, stay home as much as possible, and wear a mask while in public.”

But other states are far more serious, some threatening fines of up to $25,000 for noncompliance (as in Alaska).

“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.”

CDC Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that when considering a trip, ask:

  • Whether COVID-19 is spreading in your community or the area you’re visiting. If so, you may have a greater chance of becoming infected or infecting others.
  • If you or a loved one has an underlying condition that might increase the risk for complications from the disease.
  • If you’ll be able to maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and others during travel and at your destination.
  • Whether the destination requires that visitors quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival.

Who can go where?

Here is a guide for those destinations that require quarantining. Unless otherwise stated, 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.)

  • AlaskaNonresidents and residents entering the state must fill out a traveler declaration form on the Alaska Travel Portal listing where they’ve traveled in the previous two weeks. Residents who’ve been out of state for longer than 72 hours are asked to take a free COVID-19 test upon their return; they can instead choose to quarantine for two weeks (they’ll need to submit a self-isolation plan through the portal). Unlike Alaska residents, nonresidents can no longer opt out of testing and instead self-quarantine for two weeks. Visitors must take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival and bring printed proof of a negative test or proof that a test has been taken upon arrival (after which they must quarantine until they receive negative results). If they don’t have proof that a test has been taken or if they haven’t taken one, they must be tested upon arrival ($250 per test) and quarantine until they receive results. Everyone arriving is asked to social distance for five days — meaning keeping the usual 6 feet away from others, as well as staying away from indoor public areas, such as restaurants — because that is the median incubation period. Visitors are then asked to get a second COVID-19 test 5 to 14 days after arriving in Alaska.

    Penalties:
    Fine of up to $25,000

  • California: The state “is experiencing an unprecedented and exponential surge in COVID-19 cases, and staffing and other resources are becoming strained,” the California Department of Public Health warns. Visitors from other states or countries are “strongly discouraged from entering California.” Those who do, including returning California residents, are asked to quarantine for 10 days after arrival (unless their travel was for essential purposes). “These persons should limit their interactions to their immediate household.” Californians are asked to avoid nonessential travel to any part of the state more than 120 miles from their place of residence, or to other states or countries.

    Penalties:
    None

  • Colorado: Pitkin County, home to the Aspen Snowmass ski area, has its own rules: You’ll need to quarantine for 10 days after arrival in the county unless you can show proof of a negative test result for COVID-19 taken no longer than 72 hours before arrival. Otherwise, you’ll need to take a test at your own expense after your arrival in Pitkin County and quarantine until you receive a negative result. You can check out the state’s online map to see restrictions and COVID-19 caseloads in different counties.

    Penalties: Possible fine of $5,000 for failure to comply

  • Connecticut: Travelers arriving from states with high COVID-19 infection rates (“higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average”) must self-quarantine for 10 days and fill out a travel health form. Those states, marked in red on an online map updated every Tuesday, cover much of the country (currently only Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey are exempt, due to their proximity to Connecticut). If you can’t quarantine for some reason, and have written proof that you’ve recently tested negative for COVID-19, you can avoid quarantine by sending the test result to the Commissioner of Public Health (DPH.COVID-Travel@ct.gov or fax 860-326-0529).

    Penalties: Potential civil penalty of $500 for each violation

  • District of Columbia: Washington, D.C., requires anyone (resident or visitor) traveling for nonessential purposes from certain high-risk states (currently all states except Hawaii — though neighboring Maryland and Virginia are exempt; the list is updated every two weeks to reflect where the “seven-day moving average daily new COVID-19 case rate is 10 or more per 100,000 persons”) to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in the city. It asks that travelers not visit until they receive their negative test results, and if they are staying longer than three days, to limit their activities until they are tested again (free tests are provided) three to five days after arriving and receive a second negative result. The alternative is to quarantine for two weeks or the length of their stay. D.C. residents should limit activities for 14 days after returning from a high-risk area or get tested for COVID-19. The city is on a pause through Jan. 22: Museums are closed, restaurants aren’t allowed to offer indoor dining, and indoor gatherings can be no larger than 10 people.

    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 before their departure to Hawaii. They can have a paper copy to show upon arrival or can upload it when registering online through the Safe Travels system (a paper copy is recommended as a backup). Anyone arriving without a negative test 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 interisland 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.

  • IllinoisThere are no statewide quarantine orders. The state suggests that if residents travel to high-risk areas: “Stay home if possible after returning and monitor your health for 14 days.” Chicago has its own 10-day quarantine mandate for anyone arriving from one of the many states it considers high-risk — all but Hawaii — 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.

    Penalties:
    Violators in Chicago are subject to fines of $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000.

  • Kansas: Kansans are asked to quarantine for 10 days if they 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.) The mandate explains that 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 six; if the test is negative, they can be removed from quarantine on day eight, following CDC guidance.

    Penalties: Violating the order is a Class C misdemeanor, with fines from $25 to $100.

  • Kentucky: The state is discouraging all out-of-state leisure travel. Those who do travel for nonessential purposes are urged to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in or return to Kentucky, or follow CDC guidance for alternate options to shorten the quarantine period.

    Penalties: None

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  • Maine: Those visiting Maine 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. Only travelers from Vermont and New Hampshire are considered low-risk and therefore exempt.

    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.”

  • Maryland: Travelers coming from high-risk states (with positivity rates of 10 percent or more) should be tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for two weeks or until they receive a negative test result. It currently considers most states to be high-risk, based on information listed by the CDC.

    Penalties: None

  • Massachusetts: Travelers entering the state (including residents returning home from certain high-risk areas) are required to self-quarantine for 10 days or show a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. They must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form as well if they’re over age 18. Travelers from states with low rates of COVID-19 (right now only Hawaii) are exempt. Hotels and other short-term accommodations have been asked to communicate the rule to guests.

    Penalties: Failure to complete the form or quarantine may result in a fine of $500 a day.

  • Minnesota: Incoming visitors and residents returning from other states are asked to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and to watch for symptoms. Out-of-state travel is “highly discouraged.” More details on the state’s quarantine guidance are online.

    Penalties: None

  • New Hampshire: Those traveling to New Hampshire who have been outside of New England (including New Hampshire residents) for an extended period are required to self-quarantine for 10 days. A person who is asymptomatic and has a negative PCR test on or after day 7 of quarantining may shorten or end the quarantine. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services recommends avoiding any nonessential travel.

    Penalties: None

  • New Jersey: Travelers from a long list of states and territories considered high-risk (the list is updated every Tuesday), including residents returning home, are asked to quarantine upon arrival — and proof of a negative COVID-19 test won’t give you a pass. The state’s advisory notes: “If you test negative, you are still advised to self-quarantine for 14 days because you remain in the incubation period.”

    Penalties: None. The guidelines are “voluntary, but compliance is expected.”

  • New Mexico: All travelers arriving in New Mexico, including returning residents, “from states deemed high-risk based on COVID-positivity rates” (currently the entire country, as depicted on the state’s official map, which is updated every Wednesday) are required to self-quarantine for two weeks or the length of their stay, with exemptions for first responders and other essential workers. Anyone quarantining “may only leave a residence or place of lodging to receive medical care.” Those passing through the state are asked to stop only for essential activities like pumping gas or buying food.

    Penalties
    : Apparently none so far, though the executive order declares that those who don’t comply “shall be subject to involuntary isolation or quarantine.”

  • New York: The state is allowing visitors or returning residents to offer a negative COVID-19 test as an alternative to its mandatory 10-day quarantine. Anyone who has been out of state for more than 24 hours “must obtain a test within three days of departure, prior to arrival in New York,” and quarantine for three days. On the fourth day, if another test comes back negative, they can exit quarantine. Everyone arriving also needs to fill out the state’s health form. If you have questions, you can call 888-364-3065 or email. 

    Penalties: $2,000 fine for the first violation, $5,000 for the second and up to $10,000 if the person causes harm. Visitors arriving by air who refuse to fill out the health form are subject to a $2,000 fine “and may be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete mandatory quarantine.”

  • Ohio: Those entering Ohio after traveling to states reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15 percent or higher are asked to quarantine for two weeks. The state advises: “Remain at home and avoid all in-person activities,” including grocery shopping. High-risk states are indicated in orange on Ohio’s Department of Health map, updated every Wednesday.

    Penalties: None

  • Oregon: The state advises against out-of-state travel and encourages residents to stay local. It recommends a two-week quarantine for returning residents and visitors from out of state.

    Penalties: None

  • Pennsylvania: The state requires that all people over age 11 who enter Pennsylvania produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or place themselves in quarantine for 10 days without testing or in a seven-day quarantine with a negative test on or after day 5. This includes Pennsylvanians returning from trips of more than 24 hours to other states.

    Penalties: Possible fines from $25 to $300 for noncompliance

  • Rhode Island: If you are coming to Rhode Island from a state with a COVID-19 positivity rate of greater than 5 percent — currently more than 40 states, plus Puerto Rico (the list is updated regularly) — you must self-quarantine for two weeks. A recent negative COVID-19 test can offer you exemption from the quarantine rule, though “quarantining for 14 days is always preferred over relying on a negative test result.” Travelers also need to complete a certificate of compliance with out-of-state travel quarantine/testing requirements and an out-of-state travel screening form upon arriving in Rhode Island.

    Penalties: No more than $100 for first violation

  • Vermont: The state has implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine (or a seven-day quarantine followed by a negative test) for anyone returning or traveling to Vermont, unless the travel is for essential purposes. Travelers arriving from out of state can quarantine in their home state, which will allow them to avoid a quarantine once they arrive in Vermont. Those who haven’t completed a pre-arrival quarantine need to do so “in a Vermont lodging establishment or with friends and family (travelers must stay in their quarantine location for the duration of quarantine other than to travel to and from a test site).” If you’re staying at a hotel, you will need to confirm at check-in or while making the reservation that you are complying with these rules.

    Penalties: Law enforcement may educate violators on the rule. “Members of the Vermont State Police in November 2020 began conducting compliance checks and educational visits at lodging facilities, bars and restaurants statewide,” according to the state website.  

  • Washington: The state is now recommending a two-week quarantine for returning residents and visitors from out of state.

    Penalties: None

Editor's note: This story was originally published on July 31, 2020. It's been updated to reflect recent quarantine rules.

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