Coronavirus and Travel: FAQs and Answers

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Canceling or Postponing Travel

Should I cancel my international trip?

CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some health care systems are overwhelmed and there may be limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.

Many countries are implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and in-country travel may be unpredictable. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be disrupted, and you may have to remain outside the United States for an indefinite length of time.

CDC also recommends all travelers defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.

If you must travel, take the following steps to help reduce your chances of getting sick:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Make sure you are up to date with your routine vaccinations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine.

Air or Cruise Travel

What is the risk of getting COVID-19 on an airplane?

Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily. Although the risk of infection on an airplane is low, try to avoid contact with sick passengers, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

For more information: Exposure Risk During TravelWhat happens if there is a sick passenger on an international or domestic flight?

Under current federal regulations, pilots must report all illnesses and deaths to CDC before arriving to a US destination. According to CDC disease protocols, if a sick traveler is considered to be a public health risk, CDC works with local and state health departments and international public health agencies to contact passengers and crew exposed to that sick traveler.

Be sure to give the airline your current contact information when booking your ticket so you can be notified if you are exposed to a sick traveler on a flight.

For more information: Contact InvestigationShould I go on a cruise?

CDC recommends that all travelers defer all cruise ship travel worldwide. Recent reports of COVID-19 on cruise ships highlight the risk of infection to cruise ship passengers and crew. Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.Should travelers wear facemasks or coverings?

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in the community setting, including during travel if they must travel. This as an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions.

A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms. Medical masks and N-95 respirators are still reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Returning from Travel

What can I expect when departing other countries?

Some countries are conducting exit screening for all passengers leaving their country. Before being permitted to board a departing flight, you may have your temperature taken and be asked questions about your travel history and health.What can I expect when arriving to the United States?

Coronavirus and Travel
Coronavirus and Travel

At this time, travel restrictions and entry screening apply only to travelers arriving from some countries or regions with widespread ongoing transmission of COVID-19. [Note: US policies are subject to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.]

You may be screened when you arrive in the United States. After you arrive home, take the following steps to protect yourself and others:

  1. Stay at home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school.
  2. Monitor your health. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  3. Keep your distance­­­ from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters) This is referred to as “social distancing.”

Currently, all international travelers arriving into the US should stay home for 14 days after their arrival. At home, they are expected to monitor their health and practice social distancing. To protect the health of others, these travelers should not to go to work or school for 14 days.

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