To Quarantine or Not to Quarantine? Navigating State COVID Travel Restrictions
by Elliott McNamee, on September 9, 2020
If you or your coworkers are traveling during the COVID pandemic, you need to remember to bring your mask and hand sanitizer, to book a COVID Clean hotel, and to make sure you’re following state travel and quarantine restrictions. Travelers to or from certain states have this extra consideration -- these are Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, plus Chicago and Washington D.C.
First step: check your destination state and your home state’s travel restrictions. The AmTrav COVID Resource Center includes a quick summary of the rules and restrictions for each state, along with a link to the official state website for more information.
Second step: if your destination or home state has travel restrictions, please try your best to follow the rules! States like Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island waive quarantine restrictions if you can show a negative COVID test result on your declaration form -- find a rapid testing center and get results within 72 hours of arrival to that state. Also, read the fine print: Massachusetts, New York and other states exempt “essential workers,” but you’ll need to do a little research to figure out who exactly qualifies (healthcare workers, sometimes infrastructure workers, etc.).
By the way, it’s not just police enforcing travel restrictions. Health officials stationed at airports and hotel employees at check in may ask travelers to fill out travel declarations, health care facilities will ask about recent travel, and daycares,* schools and colleges may enforce quarantine requirements.
Third step: don’t get caught breaking the rules! Don’t post Instagram selfies on the beach or flaunt the quarantine rules in front of the hotel staff in Hawaii (where they’ve arrested or fined more than 120 people as of mid-August), or get caught in Connecticut, or get caught in New York’s checkpoints. If the rules say self-quarantine and you don’t have an exception, please consider staying home, finding a different destination, or self-quarantining.
We can’t wait to go outside without a mask, to send our kids to school, to go out to eat at a restaurant, to gather with friends and visit elderly family -- and yes, to travel without fear of breaking travel restrictions. With your honest efforts and ours, we’ll get through this.
*Daycares, you say? Yes, daycares! A month ago as my family was preparing to travel to Maryland for my sister’s long-awaited, now nine-guest wedding we got a note from our sons’ daycare: “Daycare, Inc. expects you to follow Massachusetts’ travel restrictions.” Wanting to be good citizens and knowing that our adorable, blabbermouth three-year-old would tell his teachers about our trip, we stopped on our way back to Massachusetts, coughed up $160 each for rapid tests and qualified for the negative test result exemption.
The author’s blabbermouth three-year-old son, also the ring bearer in his aunt's wedding: