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, beginning with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) announcement last month of new quarantine guidelines for those who have been vaccinated. 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) are no longer required to quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The CDC also announced last week that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume travel “at low risk to themselves.”
Meanwhile, the number of Americans vaccinated has been rising quickly in recent weeks: more than 106 million people had received at least one dose by April 4, including about 75 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.
Maryland, Ohio, Washington 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.
Massachusetts and New Hampshire are among the states that still have quarantine rules, but are now exempting those who have been fully vaccinated.
Quarantine rules and enforcement of those rules already vary widely across the country (see state-specific rules below). Some states allow visitors in without quarantining if they offer proof of a negative test for COVID-19 taken within three days of arrival. But 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.
And 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.
A few states present their policies as recommendations, with no penalties for noncompliance. South Carolina doesn’t use the word “quarantine” in its travel guidance for residents but suggests getting tested for COVID-19 seven days after your trip and reducing nonessential activities for seveb days after travel. Its website adds, “If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 10 days after travel.”
But other states are far more serious, with Alaska threatening fines of up to $25,000 for noncompliance.
And states’ determinations of whether other states are “high risk” can be wildly different, depending on their criteria. For example, Kansas currently considers New York and New Jersey to be high risk, while Rhode Island considers more than 20 states to be in that category.
“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 resume travel “at low risk to themselves,” but still recommends staying home as the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. It continues to ask non-vaccinated Americans to avoid nonessential travel.
The new travel recommendations are:
- Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to get a COVID-19 test or quarantine before or after domestic travel.
- Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to be tested for COVID-19 before international travel. They do need to be tested before returning to the U.S., however.
- After international travel, fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine when they return, but they should get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after arriving back in the U.S.
- Those who are not fully vaccinated should still avoid nonessential travel.
- Everyone should continue to wear masks in public and follow other infection prevention measures, such as frequent hand-washing social distancing.
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 a bit. 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). The state also suggests getting a second COVID-19 test 5 to 14 days after arriving in Alaska. If you test positive, you must call 800-478-0084 and not travel until you’ve been cleared by public health authorities. Vaccinated travelers should get tested for COVID-19 but do not need to follow strict social distancing while they are awaiting test results.
Penalties: Fine of up to $25,000
- California: The California Department of Public Health says traveling to California from other states or countries for tourism or recreation is “strongly discouraged,” and Californians are discouraged from traveling out of state. Those who do, including returning California residents, are asked to quarantine for 10 days after arrival (unless their travel was for essential purposes), or 7 days if they have tested negative for COVID-19. “These persons should limit their interactions to their immediate household.”
- 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. The state suggests that residents who 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, 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 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 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.
- 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 get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after arriving. They are asked to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and to watch for symptoms — “even people who have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine.” Out-of-state travel is “highly discouraged.” 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: The state is allowing visitors or returning residents to offer a negative COVID 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. But now “asymptomatic individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to quarantine during the first 3 months after full vaccination.” Everyone arriving needs to fill out the state’s health form.
Upon arrival in the U.S., international travelers must also either quarantine for 7 days with a test 3-5 days after travel, or quarantine for the full 10 days without a test. If you have questions, you can call 888-364-3065 or email. Note: The quarantine order for domestic travelers will be lifted April 1.
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.”
- 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: 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. Those who have been vaccinated at least 14 days before arrival are exempt. (Carry your vaccine card with you.)
Penalties: Law enforcement may educate violators on the rule. “
Editor's note: This story was originally published on July 31, 2020. It's been updated to reflect recent quarantine rules.
Christina Ianzito is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist who joined AARP in 2010. She’s 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.