After a long and cold December, January and February, the AmTrav COVID Resource Center state travel restrictions section is starting to thaw out, with interstate travel restrictions softening and melting away in several states.
First New Mexico, an early adopter of strict quarantine requirements, switched its requirements to recommendations. Likewise, Alaska changed its quarantine and testing requirements to “encouraged.” (Hawaii, the other of the three-strictest states, has not yet relaxed its quarantine and testing requirements.)
Then Vermont and New Hampshire announced that travelers who have completed their one- or two-dose COVID vaccine regimen at least 14 days prior are exempt from travel requirements, and they have since been joined by Chicago, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Washington D.C.
Not to be outdone, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania removed or “recommended” their travel restrictions.
Finally, New York, whose travel restrictions were originally imposed last June, announced that restrictions will be waived starting April 1st. Maine made a similar announcement for May 1st.
So is this it for interstate travel restrictions? We have a couple of thoughts. Yes, New York’s announcement is big, along with the exemptions for vaccinated travelers -- there’s a trend here, and it’s away from interstate travel restrictions. At the same time COVID is still very real: immunity is spreading via vaccines and previous sickness but that’s a leading indicator, what really matters is the rapid decline of COVID cases, hospitalization and deaths (trailing indicators). Fortunately, those continue to fall from their midwinter peaks.
And what does this mean for travel administrators and business travelers? First, travel is getting easier for vaccinated travelers, which includes a large number of frontline healthcare workers who were vaccinated in January and February -- hooray! Those benefits will spread to other professionals as they too get vaccinated, and the relaxation of travel restrictions in places like New York will make planning and traveling less complex. Best case scenario offices reopen to employees and visitors in the second half of 2021, we’re able to meet face-to-face again to build personal relationships.
In the meantime we’ll keep our masks on, stay vigilant, get tested when we can and hold off on writing a farewell message to the AmTrav COVID Resource Center, but also hope for safer and easier travel with colleagues, friends and loved ones soon.
This is all still pretty fluid. For as long as it's needed, we’ll keep updating the AmTrav COVID Resource Center so you can keep up with travel restrictions as they change.