Vaccination requirements, testing rules, the new coronavirus variant and more: We answer your questions about traveling safely this holiday season.
Holiday travel suddenly feels more fraught as the world waits for emerging information on the transmissibility and virulence of the new coronavirus variant. Scientists are racing to see if the current vaccines offer protection against Omicron, but many families and other travelers may need to consider a variety of factors now before embarking to see relatives or to experience a change of scenery.
“Once again they will have to make informed decisions,” said Kathy Risse, a pediatrician in Seattle. But unlike last year’s holiday period, Dr. Risse said, “we know so much more about stopping transmission, and widespread testing is up and running.”
For those planning to travel, the basics for protection — vaccinations, masks and social distancing — will help make the trip safer. Here are answers to 12 of the most pressing travel questions for now.
What are the travel rules between U.S. states?
Currently there are no vaccine, testing or quarantine requirements to travel within the United States, whether you fly, drive or go by rail. But masks are still required by the Transportation Security Administration for passengers age 2 and up on planes, trains and buses. Different states, and even cities within states, may have their own mask, testing or vaccine requirements for activities such as indoor dining. Local health department sites or the AARP website are good starting places to research a state’s coronavirus rules.
Do you have to be vaccinated to fly domestically?
Again no, but C.D.C. guidelines recommend people delay travel until they are fully vaccinated.
Can we still go abroad?
Current C.D.C. guidance does not recommend international travel if you are not vaccinated. If you choose to travel overseas, it can be complicated: Your desired destination may have rules and guidelines that differ from those of the United States. Take Mexico, one of the most popular destinations for U.S. travelers. The country does not require vaccinations or testing for entry, regardless of the traveler’s nationality, while other countries, like Japan, Israel and Morocco, have recently closed their borders to noncitizens. To visit Canada, foreign visitors must show proof of vaccination and the negative results of a PCR or nucleic acid test. (Unvaccinated children can accompany vaccinated adults into Canada but must follow a specific set of protocols including health questionnaires and a virus test.)
Rules for these and other countries can change at any time, so it’s best to keep checking official government websites as your travel date approaches. The Times updates a list of countries open to U.S. citizens and the C.D.C. maintains a list of global Covid hot spots.
Do you have to be vaccinated to fly internationally?
Again, it’s complicated. For outbound travel from the United States, vaccination requirements depend on your destination. U.S. embassy sites are good sources of information, as are countries’ tourist and health sites for your desired destination. Age requirements can also vary by destination.
U.S. citizens do not have to be vaccinated to travel back to the United States, but most adult foreign travelers do. Exceptions can be found on the C.D.C. website. Children under 18 are exempted from the vaccination requirement.