February U.S. Travel Restrictions By State–Quarantine And Covid-19 Test Requirements

The situation in the U.S. is much more upbeat in February than it was last month. There have been 1.3 million new shots of Covid-19 vaccines given every day over the past week, as reported by CNN, many mass vaccination sites have been set up across the country and Johnson & Johnson asked the U.S. for emergency authorization for its Covid-19 vaccination (if approved, it will be the third one in use across the country, after Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna).

That said, the arrival of new variants of Covid-19 mean that many fear a new surge if people do not adhere to current mobility restrictions and guidelines. The state-by-state breakdown of restrictions across the U.S. below, shows that most states have kept state-wide mandates the same, in regard to quarantine or negative Covid-19 test requirements for arriving or returning passengers. A few extra states have added mandatory mask mandates.

What’s more, some states have started providing details regarding travel rules around vaccinated travelers–for the most part, a Covid-19 vaccination does not yet bypass the rules regarding quarantine or test requirements. This is unlikely to change until more people are vaccinated and scientists understand how far immunised people spread the virus, which is currently the biggest unknown.

29 U.S. states currently have no state-wide travel restrictions

The following states do not currently have any state-wide travel restrictions; Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado (Pitkin County however, still requires a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival in ski resorts Aspen and Snowmass and a signed affadavit), Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana (although visitors to the seven Indian reservations should check), Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina (although the state suggests checking at local destinations), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota (although some roads through Native American reservations are closed), Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

21 states currently have travel restrictions

These are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State. (Washington D.C. also has travel restrictions).

There are mandatory state-wide mask mandates in some states which don’t have state-wide travel restrictions: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Utah.

Alaska–optional Covid-19 test at day 5

All non-Alaskan residents must do one of three things:

  1. submit a travel declaration and self-isolation plan AND arrive with proof of a negative Covid-19 test;
  2. follow the work plan that your employer filed with the state; or
  3. buy a Covid-19 test upon arrival at a cost of $250 and quarantine until results come through.

Alaskan residents, upon returning from other states, can choose from the same three options but the Covid-19 test is free–or they can choose to not take the test and quarantine for 14 days.

The state advocates a second optional Covid-19 test for everyone, between 5-14 days after arrival. All travelers must practice social distancing for 5 days after arrival, even with a negative test result.

California–stay-at-home orders lifted

The regional stay-at-home orders which were issued in January have been lifted, although some restrictions exist in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. In Santa Clara County, travelers arriving from over 150 miles away must quarantine for 10 days. In most counties, hotels can welcome travelers and restaurants can serve outdoors.

In Los Angeles, all travelers over the age of 16 who are entering from another state or country must submit this online form (acknowledging that they understand and will abide by the LA County Department of Public Health’s travel requirement, and understand the State of California’s Travel Advisory). The same form must be filled in when arriving into an airport or Union station.

Connecticut–a $500 fine for non-compliance with tests

Travelers arriving into Connecticut must quarantine for 10 days except if arriving from New Jersey, New York or Rhode Island. Everyone must fill in an online health form with a risk of a $500 fine for non-compliance.

The only way to avoid this quarantine is to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken in the past 72 hours or to take a test upon arrival and quarantine until the results come through.

Hawaii–quarantine possible in ‘resort bubbles’

In order to bypass the 10-day quarantine, passengers must have a negative nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)–taken at an approved site–either in their hands upon arrival or uploaded into the health form online. This form will give passengers a QR code which can be given to airport screeners upon arrival.

Just to be sure, at least 25% of arriving passengers will also be randomly selected for a free, second, rapid Covid-19 test at the airport and travelers must stay for the thirty minutes it takes for the result to come through before they leave.

Travelers to Kauai County, regardless of the ability to produce a negative PCR test result, must go into quarantine for 10 days unless they are heading into a “resort bubble”; people staying at specific hotels can arrive with a negative PCR test, head to their resort on arrival and be tested there, two to three days later. They will effectively remain in quarantine during their time at the hotels.

Illinois–only one safe, ‘yellow list’ state

In Illinois, travel is unrestricted. However, since mid-January, arrivals into Chicago are categorised into two groups, orange and yellow, based on the infection rates in the home states.

Anyone arriving from a yellow state is not subject to any restrictions, but at present this only applies to arrivals from Hawaii.

Anyone from an orange state must quarantine for 10 days or have a negative Covid-19 test result no more than 72 hours old. This currently applies to the other 49 states.

Kansas–returning travelers can ‘test out’ at day 8

Kansas has some of the most specific travel requirements in the U.S., in that a mandatory quarantine is needed for anyone who has:

  • taken a sea or river cruise since March 15; and/or
  • participated in an out-of-state mass gathering of more than 500 people (where masks were not worn and it was impossible to keep further than 6 feet apart).

If someone falls into this category they can ‘test out’ of a 10-day quarantine by taking a test on day 6 of quarantine and being released on day 8 when the negative result comes through (instead of day 11).

Mask mandates vary by county.

Kentucky–advises quarantine for out-of-state travelers

Since December, Kentucky has been discouraging out-of-state travel and asks that you quarantine for 14 days if you have traveled to any other state.

Maine–quarantine or negative Covid-19 tests

People arriving in Maine must enter a 10-day quarantine or sign to say they have had a negative Covid-19 test in the past 72 hours. Arrivals with pending tests must isolate until results come through. All types of Covid-19 tests are acceptable. All arrivals must sign a Certificate of Compliance.

Residents of two states are exempt from both conditions of entry: New Hampshire and Vermont. People in quarantine may leave hotels or campsites to do outdoor activity such as hiking.

Maine residents, who travel to states not on the exempt list, must also quarantine upon return for 10 days or until a negative test result can be proved.

Maryland–a $5,000 fine or prison for non-compliance

Anyone arriving into Maryland from out-of-state must quarantine for 10 days or show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before their arrival. Visitors are also advised to re-test 72 hours later.

Travelers arriving from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. are exempt. People who do not conform to these requirements will face a $5,000 fine or a year in prison.

Massachusetts–Hawaii remains the only low-risk state

All out-of-state arrivals must fill in a travel form. Arrivals from high-risk states must quarantine for 10 days or produce a negative Covid-19 test taken in the last 72 hours. The fine for non-compliance is $500. Hawaii remains the only low-risk state.

Minnesota–quarantine, if travel necessary

Visitors are asked to quarantine for 14 days upon entry (or re-entry) although out-of-state travel is discouraged.

New Hampshire–second Covid-19 vaccine exempts travelers

If entering New Hampshire from other than a New England state (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island), travelers are asked to quarantine for 10 days. However, after seven days in quarantine, travelers can ‘test out’ with a negative PCR test.

This rule does not apply to anyone who has had their second Covid-19 vaccine more than 14 days prior to travel–these people do not need to get tested or quarantine. People who had Covid-19 more than 90 days prior to travel and are recovered (and have proof) are also exempt from testing or quarantine.

New Jersey–7-day quarantine even with negative results

The state is currently advising against all non-essential interstate travel.

Visitors and returning travelers must quarantine for 10 days if they haven’t been tested. Those people who already have a negative test are asked to isolate for 7 days, regardless of later results.

People who arrive from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware are exempt. Travelers from other than these four states must complete an online survey.

New Mexico–every state now deemed high risk

In New Mexico, the state is asking that visitors self-quarantine for 14 days or the entire length of stay, if it is shorter than 2 weeks, even with a negative Covid-19 test from all high-risk states (a 5% or higher positivity rate or a positive test rate higher than 80 per one million residents, as measured over a 7-day rolling average). Every state is currently considered a high-risk state.

New York–a quarantine and two tests

Anyone arriving from a state which does not border New York (New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware) must quarantine for 10 days, but visitors can ‘test out’ of quarantine if they arrive with a negative test taken three days before arrival and then quarantine for three days. Travelers with negative results from a second test taken on day four may leave quarantine.

All visitors must fill out a Traveler Health Form and any visitor not complying with regulations, faces a fine of up to $10,000–enforcement teams are currently stationed at Port Authority and regional airports.

People who leave New York for less than 24 hours do not need to get a test before returning, nor do they need to quarantine. They must, however, get a Covid-19 test on the fourth day back.

Ohio–quarantine from 7 states

Ohio is restricting travel from states with a positive testing rate of 15% where arrivals must self-quarantine for 14 days; this currently includes seven states–Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Texas.

Oregon–everyone must quarantine

Any arrivals into Oregon, including returning residents from out-of-state, must self-isolate for 14 days. Non-essential travel and tourism is ill-advised.

Pennsylvania–quarantine, a test or a $300 fine

All travelers into Pennsylvania, above the age of 11, must quarantine for 10 days or provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken in the 72 hours before entering the state. Failure to comply may result in a $300 fine under the Disease Prevention and Control Law.

Rhode Island–vaccine recipients must still quarantine

Rhode Island visitors must quarantine for 14 days if arriving from states which have a positive testing rate of 5% or more, or they can opt out if they have a negative Covid-19 test taken in the last 72 hours. However, this exception doesn’t apply to international travelers. Visitors from out-of-state must also complete a certificate of compliance and a travel screening form. Travelers may take a test upon arrival and quarantine until they receive a negative Covid-19 test result.

The updated spreadsheet currently lists Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Crucially, the rules still apply to travelers who have had the Covid-19 vaccination. However, if people have had Covid-19 in the past 90 days and completed isolation periods, they do not need to test or quarantine upon arrival.

Vermont–travelers can ‘test out’ of quarantine on day 8

The state has initiated a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving or returning to Vermont. Visitors can end the quarantine after 7 days if they can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

Anyone arriving in Vermont in a private car or plane (as well as rental cars) can choose to complete quarantine and testing in another state before arriving.

Anyone staying in short-term rental or lodging as well as at campsites must complete a certificate of compliance or tick an online compliance statement when they check-in, to ensure they have understood quarantine requirements.

Washington D.C.–Covid-19 tests for stays over 24 hours

Anyone arriving into Washington D.C. from a high-risk state and visiting for more than 24 hours must get a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before their arrival. If the stay is longer than three days, another test must be done three to five days after arrival.

High-risk states are categorized as those having more than 10 daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people. An interactive map complied by The New York Times shows which districts and regions meet this threshold.

Travelers from Maryland and Virginia are exempt.

Washington State–quarantine for 14 days

Residents are not encouraged to travel and anyone arriving and returning from out-of-state is asked to self-isolate for 2 weeks.

Travel increases the chances of spreading and getting Covid-19. The CDC recommends postponing all travel, stating that “staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19,” and advises that even though people may feel well and not have any symptoms, they “can still spread Covid-19 to family, friends, and community.”