After six months in self-isolation, I am longing for a vacation – preferably to somewhere that is relatively low-risk and off the beaten path!
I thought I had found the perfect place in Roswell, New Mexico, a city of fewer than 50,000 people that was the site of an alleged UFO crash in 1947. Unfortunately, the State of New Mexico requires visitors from “high risk” states to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. While I’d like to visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center, it’s probably not worth the cost of quarantine.
Many U.S. states have enacted quarantine rules for out-of-state visitors, and failing to observe the policies can result in substantial fines or even jail time. Below, I’ve assembled a guide to the policies for each of the U.S. states that have established travel restrictions.
This article is current as of September 16, 2020.
All nonresident visitors to Alaska must arrive with a qualifying negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure or proof of a pending test result from a test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. Test results must be uploaded online via the Alaska Travel Portal.
If a nonresident arrives without a pre-test, testing is available for $250 per test. Travelers will be required to self-quarantine at their own expense while waiting on results. Out of state visitors remaining after 7 days are expected to take a second test 7 to 14 days after arrival.
Full details of travel restrictions are available from the State of Alaska.
Pursuant to Executive Order 7111 (PDF), anyone entering Connecticut from a state “with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents” or with a test positivity rate of 10% or higher, must self-quarantine for 14 days.
The state maintains a map (pictured above), listing the states that are considered safe or high-risk. Travelers coming from high-risk states, or who have spent 24 hours or more in a high-risk state within the past 14 days, must complete a Travel Health Form and quarantine upon arrival. To access the most up-to-date list of restricted states, visit the Connecticut COVID Response Portal.
Travelers wishing to avoid quarantine can submit a negative COVID-19 test result taken in the 72 hours prior to arrival. The result should be sent to the Commissioner of Public Health via email to DPH.COVID-Travel@ct.gov or via fax to 860-326-0529.
Failure to complete the travel health form and to self-quarantine may result in a civil penalty of $1,000 for each violation.
District of Columbia
Persons visiting the District for non-essential purposes (i.e. tourism) must quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled from or to a “high-risk area” within the past 14 days. The full details of this mandate are available in the Mayor’s Order 2020-081, issued on July 24, 2020.
The most recently updated list of high-risk states is available on the DC Coronavirus website. The list currently contains 29 states.
All persons traveling to Hawaii from another state or country are required to quarantine for 14 days. There are no exceptions. In the future, Hawaii does plan to permit travelers to submit COVID-19 test results in lieu of quarantine, but details on the program’s launch are not yet available.
Prior to travel, all persons must visit https://travel.hawaii.gov/ to provide personal data via the Safe Travels program. Information should be submitted online at least 24 hours prior to departure. Use of the system requires a valid email address.
Violating the State of Hawaii’s quarantine order is a criminal offense that carries penalties of up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Although most of Idaho has entered Stage 4 of the state’s reopening plan, Ada County remains in Stage 3. The county includes the the state’s capital city, Boise.
Under Stage 3, a 14-day self-quarantine is encouraged for travelers entering Idaho (in this case Ada County) from another country or from an area outside Idaho with substantial community spread or case rates higher than Idaho.
The quarantine is only “encouraged” with no enforcement or stated consequences for failing to isolate, so it appears to be up to travelers on whether or not to comply.
Although the State of Illinois has issued no statewide quarantine order, the City of Chicago mandates that visitors from certain “high-risk” states must quarantine for 14 days.
States are marked as high-risk if they have a daily average of 15 or more cases per 100,000 people. The following states meet that threshold: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. Travelers from those states must quarantine for 14 days if entering the City of Chicago. Negative COVID-19 results are not accepted.
Travelers who fail to observe the city’s quarantine order may be fined $100 to $500 per day, up to a maximum of $7,000. More information is available in the Chicago Emergency Travel Order.
Persons traveling to Kansas who have attended a mass gathering or event out-of-state consisting of 500 people or more that was not socially distanced (at least 6 feet) and where attendees did not wear masks must self-isolate for 14 days after arrival to the State of Kansas. Individuals who have recently returned from countries with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice must also quarantine.
Additional details are provided on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website.
Travelers to Maine are provided with the following three options in accordance with the Keep Maine Healthy plan:
- Traveler can enter a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Maine.
- Traveler can demonstrate that they have received a recent negative COVID-19 test result.
- Travelers who live in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire or Vermont are exempt from both the quarantine and testing requirements.
Persons seeking lodging in the State of Maine who are not residents of the state and who are not from one of the exempt states must submit a Certificate of Compliance (PDF) upon check-in. Through this document, the traveler must certify that they have received a negative test result, that they will observe the 14-day quarantine, that they have already completed the mandatory quarantine in the state.
The Maryland Department of Health issued an Out of State Travel and Public Travel Advisory on July 29, 2020 (PDF) which states that out-of-state travelers should either get tested for COVID-19 promptly upon arrival in Maryland or (preferably) during the 72 hours before arriving in Maryland. Testing requirements are waived for residents of the District of Columbia and Virginia.
All persons over the age of 18 are required to submit the on-line Massachusetts Travel Form and complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine unless they are coming from a low-risk state or can produce the negative results of a COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours before arrival in Massachusetts. The states currently designated as low-risk are Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
Individuals who fail to comply may face a fine of $500 per day. For additional information, consult the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order.
Travelers visiting New Hampshire from out of state or from another country are “asked” to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. This request is not made of those traveling from the following nearby states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The State of New Jersey maintains a list of high-risk states on its website. Any person traveling to New Jersey from one of the listed states is expected to self-quarantine for 14 days. Negative COVID-19 tests are insufficient, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (PDF). Although the “self-quarantine is voluntary, compliance is expected.”
Travelers arriving in New Mexico from a foreign country or from U.S. states designated as “high-risk” must quarantine for 14 days. Quarantine is not required for those who can produce a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours, or who are traveling to New Mexico from the following “lower-risk” states: Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.
Persons failing to comply with the requirements “are subject to involuntary quarantine by the New Mexico Department of Health under the Public Health Emergency Response Act.” Full details of travel restrictions are available from the New Mexico Department of Health.
The act was unclear as to whether aliens arriving by UFO would be required to quarantine.
30 states and territories are listed on New York’s restricted list, which is maintained in partnership with Connecticut and New Jersey. Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order 205, anyone traveling to New York from one of the restricted states must complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Negative results from a COVID-19 test will to be accepted in lieu of quarantine.
All travelers traveling to New York from the designated states are required to submit a Traveler Health Form. Forms are made available on the aircraft prior to arrival, and may also be submitted online. Enforcement Teams will greet all arriving aircraft to confirm that passengers have completed the form if required to do so. Travelers who leave the airport without completing the form may be subject to a $2,000 fine.
The New York State Department of Health may issue a mandatory quarantine order for anyone who does not comply with the directive and anyone who violates a quarantine order may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to 15 days.
Additional details are provided on the New York COVID-19 Travel Advisory website.
Those entering Ohio after traveling to states reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15 percent or higher are asked to quarantine for 15 days. The following states are currently included on the list: Alabama, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Additional information is available on the Ohio COVID-19 Travel Advisory website.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health provides a list of approximately 15 states where it says “there are high amounts of COVID-19 cases” and it recommends that people coming from those states quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Pennsylvania. There is no mandate that travelers do so.
Travelers coming from 29 states and territories (see the list) that are deemed to have a high positivity rate of COVID-19 are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. As an exception, travelers may provide proof of a negative test for COVID-19 that was taken within 72 hours of arriving in Rhode Island. Travelers can also take a test in Rhode Island and, upon receiving negative results, they may end their quarantine.
If you are coming to Rhode Island from one of the states with a positivity rate of COVID-19 greater than 5 percent — nearly 30 states, plus Puerto Rico (the list is updated regularly) — you must self-quarantine for two weeks, with exemptions for health care workers, those needing to pick up children or obtain necessities such as medication or groceries. A recent negative COVID-19 test can offer you exemption from the quarantine rule, though “quarantining for 14 days is always preferred over relying on a negative test result.” Travelers also need to complete a certificate of compliance with out-of-state travel quarantine/testing requirements and an out-of-state travel screening form upon arriving in Rhode Island.
The State of Vermont, in some respects, has taken a more granular approach to policies for leisure travelers. Individuals coming from Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia must use the state’s pandemic map to determine the active cases per million residents in the county where they live.
If their county has fewer than 400 active cases per million, travel to Vermont is permitted without restriction. For individuals who live in a county with more than 400 active cases, or who are traveling from a state that is not included on the map, they will have two options for visiting Vermont.
- Travelers arriving to Vermont in a personal vehicle, may complete either a 14-day quarantine or a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test in their home state and enter Vermont without further quarantine restrictions.
- Travelers arriving to Vermont via public transportation (plane, train, bus) or from further than a direct car ride would allow may complete either a 14-day quarantine or a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test 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).
This means that, if you fly, ride the train or take a bus to Vermont, or travel from one of the states not listed, you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days in Vermont, or quarantine for 7 days then take a COVID-19 test. All out of state travelers utilizing lodging, camping and short-term rental properties in Vermont must also sign and complete a Certificate of Compliance to affirm that they have followed or will follow the travel guidelines.
Final Thoughts (and a few things to keep in mind)
Travel is still dangerous because the coronavirus is still among us. No matter where you decide to travel, I urge you to respect the policies of the state you are visiting. It remains critical that we follow longstanding CDC guidance – to wear a mask, maintain social distancing and wash our hands (or sanitize) frequently.
Many of us are warming up to the idea of domestic travel and it can be relatively low-risk… if we take the proper precautions. I wish you all safe, enjoyable and healthy journeys!