by Brittney Myers | June 6, 2021
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State and local governments can have very different requirements.
Although things are still far from where they were in the Before Times, various governments are taking steps to hasten them along.
International travel is slowly starting to reopen to Americans -- particularly for fully vaccinated travelers. And domestic travel is nearly free from quarantine restrictions (keyword: "nearly;" more below).
Of course, it's not a total free-for-all. For one thing, folks who haven't been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are still encouraged to stay home. If you do need to travel, the CDC recommends unvaccinated travelers get tested before leaving their home states. It also recommends getting tested and self-quarantining after you travel if you're not vaccinated.
Furthermore, each state -- and county, and even some cities -- can have its own rules and restrictions in place. Everything from when you need to wear a mask to how many people can enter a given business can vary each time you cross a border. Here's a look at some of the ways requirements change as you move from state to state.
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Perhaps the most inconsistent coronavirus-related requirement is when and where you need to wear a mask. The recent changes to the CDC's recommendation on mask wearing led many states to lift their mask mandates for the vaccinated -- and some states have lifted them entirely.
That said, a few states do still require masks in all public indoor spaces, even for vaccinated folks -- mostly because it's impossible to tell at a glance who is vaccinated and who just doesn't want to wear a mask. However, even if states don't have a general mask requirement, some county governments still have them in place.
Additionally, many locations, even those without general indoor mask mandates, still require you to use a mask when on public transit or in healthcare-related settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. Given the variability here, a good rule of thumb is to simply bring your mask along when you travel so you can easily comply with any local ordinance.
As with mask mandates, most states have at least relaxed their capacity limits on the majority of businesses. Retail businesses, for example, are back to 100% capacity in many places. However, certain types of businesses, such as bars and cigar cafes, do still have to operate under various restrictions.
Similarly, a lot of states still have restrictions in place limiting the capacity for event venues. Large indoor events aren't generally prohibited in most places, but they are limited to a few hundred people at most in many states.
At the height of the 2020 restrictions, many states had implemented quarantine requirements for any out-of-state travelers. Those have largely been rescinded at this point -- with a few exceptions. In general, though, vaccinated domestic travelers no longer need to quarantine when traveling across state lines.
The exceptions here can be twofold. If you've recently traveled to another country, particularly one with high case numbers, you may need a negative COVID-19 test and to possibly quarantine in some states. Additionally, most places recommend you self-quarantine if you have any coronavirus symptoms.
As has likely become clear, domestic travel in the U.S. can come with a lot of restrictions -- or not. It all depends on where you're traveling. Each state, county, and city can have its own requirements; and individual businesses can still have their own requirements as well.
Moreover, the situation is nearly constantly evolving. Every week seems to come with more changes to various policies. If you have upcoming travel (perhaps taking advantage of those travel rewards you've been hoarding for the past year), be sure to check local requirements for each state and county you plan to visit.
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