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American Tourists Are Being Urged to Stay Home

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Americans are being encouraged to avoid travel.

Key Takeaways

  • The European Union removed the U.S. from its list of safe countries to travel to.
  • Hawaii’s governor is asking tourists to stay away as COVID-19 cases rise.
  • Doctors recommend restricting non-essential travel right now, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

As COVID-19 cases climb throughout the United States, it may be time for Americans to put non-essential travel on hold.

In the spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could largely resume life as they did before the global pandemic began.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported in June that the agency screened more than 2 million passengers in one day for the first time since March 2020.

But now, Americans are being urged to curb their travel again. The European Union (EU) removed the U.S. from its safe travel list, urging people from member countries to avoid traveling to America. The EU also has removed previous recommendations that its member states ease restrictions on nonessential travel for Americans.

The EU previously stated that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should be allowed to visit member countries for non-essential travel. The EU even added the U.S. to its safe travel list in June and suggested that member countries ease travel restrictions for Americans.

But now that cases are climbing, restrictions are imminent. The U.S. wasn’t the only country recently removed from the EU’s safe travel list: Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and the Republic of North Macedonia were also taken off.

Even domestic authorities are asking Americans not to travel. Hawaii Governor David Ige urged tourists in late August to avoid traveling to the islands.

“I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii,” he said during a press conference. “It’s not a good time to travel to the islands.”

Ige urged people to keep travel to “essential business activities only,” noting that many restaurants have restricted capacity and there are limited rental cars available.

“We are seeing more COVID patients in our hospitals and the ICUs are filling up,” Ige continued. “We know that we need to take action now in order to reduce the spread of COVID and ensure that our hospitals are not overrun.”

Travel Guidance From the CDC

The CDC currently recommends that people “delay” travel within the U.S. if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Those who are fully vaccinated against the virus are urged to take certain precautions, including:

  • Wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation 
  • Consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms after travel

For those who are unvaccinated who choose to travel, they should:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 one to three days before your trip
  • Wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation 
  • Try to social distance from anyone who is not traveling with you
  • Get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after you travel and self-quarantine for seven days, even if you test negative
  • Avoid being around people who are at an increased rate of illness for 14 days after your return

The CDC also recommends against international travel, telling those who are unvaccinated, “do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated.” But even for those who are fully vaccinated, international travel “poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants.”

If you choose to travel internationally, the CDC recommends paying close attention to the COVID-19 situation in your destination area.

What This Means For You

Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is the safest way to travel right now. However, doctors recommend being mindful of the COVID-19 situation in the area you’re considering traveling to. If cases are high, it’s best to delay your trip.

Doctors Recommend Limiting Your Travel

“Given the contagiousness of the Delta variant, I would avoid nonessential airline travel,” infectious disease expert Richard R. Watkins, MD, professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Verywell.

Watkins points out that COVID-19 situations in areas “change rapidly,” which is why travelers “should have contingency plans if things go awry.”

Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, agrees.

“When people travel, they should familiarize themselves with the situation in their destination,” he tells Verywell. “What are the requirements? What are the logistics? What do the hospitals look like? What activities are available?”

You shouldn’t visit areas with overrun hospital systems, he points out. You could end up not being able to get care if you need it or you could end up burdening the healthcare system even more.

As a whole, Adalja says, “individuals should have a plan for if they get infected and how easy it will be to get home.” His suggestion: Get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Being vaccinated is the best way to mitigate this,” Adalja says.

If you’re interested in traveling and are fully vaccinated, but are concerned about your COVID-19 risk, Watkins recommends consulting with your doctor. Still, he urges people to stay home, if they can help it.

“I would avoid unnecessary travel at this point,” Watkins says.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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Article Sources
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  1. Transportation Security Administration. TSA surpasses 2 million daily travelers screened. Published June 12, 2021.

  2. Council of the European Union. COVID-19: council removes 5 countries and one entity/territorial authority from the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted. Published August 30, 2021.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Domestic travel during COVID-19. Updated August 25, 2021.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. International travel during COVID-19. Updated August 25, 2021.