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Best Practices: Travel

You may be wondering if it is safe to travel within the United States during the Coronavirus pandemic. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for domestic travel, the current situation is not business as usual. 

Air Travel


As of March 16, 2020, the CDC is recommending that:

  • Travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, most European countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Most foreign nationals who have been to one of these countries will not be allowed back into the United States.

  • Travelers avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea.

  • All older persons and those with chronic illnesses avoid all nonessential travel.


If you are flying and have a layover, you may be wondering if you should be avoiding layovers in countries where nonessential travel is discouraged. The answer is yes. According to the CDC, if a layover is unavoidable, travelers are advised to stay in the airport. 

Cruise Travel

Cruises put large numbers of people, often from countries around the world, in frequent and close contact with each other. This can promote the spread of respiratory viruses, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. You may get sick from close contact with an infected person or by touching contaminated surfaces.

CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel at this time.  

More information: Exposure Risk During Travel

Returning from Travel

At this time, American citizens, lawful permanent residents and family members who have been in China, Iran, South Korea, Europe (Schengen Area countries), the United Kingdom and Ireland will be asked to stay home for a period of 14 days. 


Because cases of COVID-19 have been reported in many states, including California, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease, the CDC has created a list of questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel.

Is Coronavirus spreading where you’re going?

If Coronavirus is spreading at your destination, but not where you live, you may be at higher risk of exposure if you travel there.

Will you or your travel companion(s) be in close contact with others during your trip?

Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like Coronavirus may increase in crowded settings, particularly closed-in settings with little air circulation, if there are people in the crowd who are sick. This may include settings such as conferences, public events (like concerts and sporting events), religious gatherings, public spaces (like movie theatres and shopping malls), and public transportation (like buses, metro, trains).

Are you or your travel companion(s) at higher risk of severe illness if you do get the Coronavirus?

People at higher risk for severe disease are older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes). CDC recommends that travelers at higher risk for Coronavirus complications avoid all nonessential travel.


Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you get exposed to, or are sick with, Coronavirus?

If you have close contact with someone with Coronavirus during travel, you may be asked to stay home to self-monitor and avoid contact with others for up to 14 days after travel. If you become sick with the Coronavirus, you may be unable to go to work or school until you’re considered noninfectious. You will be asked to avoid contact with others (including being in public places) during this period of infectiousness.

Do you live with someone who is older or has a severe chronic health condition?

If you get sick with the Coronavirus upon your return from travel, your household contacts may be at risk of infection. Household contacts who are older adults or have severe chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from Coronavirus.

Is Coronavirus spreading where you live?

Consider the risk of passing the virus to others during travel, particularly if you will be in close contact with people who are older adults or have severe chronic health condition These people are at higher risk of getting very sick. If your symptoms are mild or you don’t have a fever, you may not realize you are infectious.

Depending on your unique circumstances, you may choose to delay or cancel your plans. If you do decide to travel, be sure to practice precautions to prevent getting and spreading the coronavirus and other respiratory diseases during travel. 

If you are considering international travel, check the CDC’s travel notices to determine if you should postpone or cancel. These travel notices are based on assessment of the potential health risks involved with traveling to a certain area. A list of destinations with travel notices is available on the CDC website

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