COVID Regulations For Travel

On January 29th, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the outbreak of a mysterious virus spreading in Wuhan, China. At that time, Coronavirus-related pneumonia had officially infected 59 people. To avoid further spreading, experts suggested travel precautions. Four days after the announcement, the United States restricted global air travel and declared COVID-19 a National Emergency.

As of today, more than 147,211,802 people worldwide have contracted the virus. However, the number of new outbreaks is winding down thanks to efficient safety practices like social distancing and the role out of multiple vaccines. In response to the lowered rates of new infections, the U.S. and much of the world are loosening their travel restrictions.

Can I Travel For Rehab?

It is well-documented now that rates of substance abuse have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 40% of American adults said they were struggling with mental health or substance use, with 13% starting or increasing their substance use during the pandemic.

These increasing rates have caused many people to seek out necessary treatment at inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Rehabs are essential and have been operating during COVID with increased sanitation practices and social distancing, but that does not remove the uncertainty that some patients feel during this time.

Traveling to rehab is often imperative based on the location of the patient. Finding a rehab that meets ones specific needs is crucial and sometimes that rehab will not always be within driving distance. Others may want to explore luxury rehabs in beautiful destinations, while others may want the opportunity to step away from the area that they used to use at and solely focus on their recovery. Thankfully, traveling can be done safely under CDC guidelines.

Current COVID Regulations For Domestic Travelers

Current COVID regulations for travel vary by state. However, the CDC released new guidance on April 2, 2021.

Fully Vaccinated Domestic Travelers

The new guidelines issued by the CDC state that fully vaccinated travelers with an FDA approved vaccine:

  • Do not need to self-quarantine.
  • Do not need to test negative before a trip unless required by their destination.
  • Should wear a mask over their nose and mouth.
  • Are recommended to stay 6 feet from others and avoid crowds.
  • Are urged to wash their hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Must self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms after travel. 
  • If developing COVID related symptoms, must isolate and get tested.
  • Should follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.

It is important to note that you do not need to get tested or self-quarantine if you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months. However, they should still follow all other travel recommendations.

To clarify, fully vaccinated travelers, in general, are people who are 2 weeks into their second dose of an FDA-approved vaccine. Examples of the 2-dose series include vaccines like Pfizer or Moderna. People who do not meet the above requirement are not fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated Domestic Travelers

For those who are not vaccinated, different regulations apply when traveling. To protect yourself and others, the CDC recommends:

  • To take a viral test 1-3 days before traveling.
  • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth.
  • Avoiding crowds. 
  • Staying 6 feet which is about 2 arm lengths from anyone who is not traveling with you.
  • Washing your hands as much as possible or using hand sanitizer.
  • To take a viral test 3-5 days after travel. 
  • Once home, self-quarantine for a full 7 days after a trip (even if test results are negative).

For those who choose not to get tested, please stay home. The CDC recommends unvaccinated travelers self-quarantine for 10 days after a trip. They also suggest avoiding people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days.

Current COVID Regulations For International Travelers

Due to the spread of new or concerning variants when traveling internationally, people have a different set of guidelines to follow. Even if a person is fully vaccinated when visiting a foreign country, the individual must pay close attention to the COVID-19 situation before leaving.

Fully Vaccinated International Travelers

For those who must travel during the pandemic, below are a few guidelines the CDC recommends for international travelers. Once an individual is fully vaccinated, if they choose to travel, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Before traveling, research requirements related to travel, testing, or quarantine.
  • Understand and follow all airline and destination standards that may differ from the U.S.’s.
  • Check the current COVID-19 situation in your destination.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone not traveling with you.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Carry and use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol or more.
  • When arriving back in the U.S., all air passengers must have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days old.
  • Once in the U.S., individuals should get tested with a viral test 3 to 5 days after arrival .
  • Self-monitor for symptoms.
  • If travelers feel any symptoms, they should isolate and get tested.

As a reminder, travelers who do not follow their destination’s requirements may be denied entry to their travel destination. These individuals will be required to return to the U.S.

Unvaccinated International Travelers

People not fully vaccinated are recommended not to travel at this time to reduce their exposure to the virus. However, if a person needs to travel, the CDC does have guidelines she or he may follow like:

  • Before travel, get a viral test 1-3 days before flying out.
  • Understand and follow all airline and destination requirements.
  • Know that travel, testing, or quarantine guidelines may vary from the U.S. 
  • Please recognize that you may be denied entry to any foreign destination due to their COVID-related guidelines.
  • Travelers who do not follow the foreign country’s international travel requirements may be required to return to the U.S.
  • Before traveling, understand how the destination is handling the pandemic.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public.
  • Avoid crowds. 
  • Stay at a minimum of six feet from those who are not part of your travel party.
  • Wash your hands often. 
  • Carry and use sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

It is essential for anyone visiting a new destination to stay updated with the CDC’s guidelines. As time passes, more people will be vaccinated, and the rates of COVID-19 will change. In response, the CDC will update their recommendations to reflect the available scientific evidence and conditions. In the meantime, our team recommends everyone continue practicing social distancing and stay aware.

Traveling During COVID For Rehab

Traveling during the pandemic is possible. If you or a loved one are interested in traveling for rehab, reach out for help. Contact a treatment provider who can help answer your rehab-related questions. Do not wait another day.

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Suzette Gomez

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  • Suzette Gomez earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida. Her desire to help others led her to a Pre-medical track with a focus on psychological and social development. After graduation, she pursued her passion for writing and began working as a Digital Content Writer. With her background in medicine, Suzette uses both science and the arts to serve the public through her writing.

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