Without fanfare or explanation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lifted its mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers.
However, according to its website, the agency will now defer to state, local, and territorial governments that still have travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, or other quarantine requirements in place.
As an example, the CDC tells travelers that they will need to follow restrictions set by the U.S. State Department. That agency warns that any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in China in the previous 14 days “may” be subject to up to 14 days of quarantine.
Quarantining for 14 days is still a smart move
The CDC’s move is not an all-access pass to go wherever you like. The CDC reminds travelers that they can still be exposed to COVID-19 anywhere.
“You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can be contagious without symptoms and spread the virus to others. You and your travel companions (including children) pose a risk to your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you were exposed to the virus,” the agency stated.
The agency is asking travelers to use their common sense and follow safeguards like hand-washing, social distancing, using a face covering, and keeping track of any coronavirus-like symptoms. It also notes that consumers should allow for some flexibility in travel arrangements in the short-term.
“Prepare to be flexible during your trip as restrictions and policies may change during your travel,” the CDC wrote. “If traveling internationally or across international borders, check with the destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Avoid surprises by being prepared
In addition, travelers should make themselves aware that not every country has relaxed its admission policy and may prohibit entrance by a U.S. tourist or a “non-essential” traveler. It’s also important to keep in mind that because of how other countries are handling the pandemic, the U.S.’s advice might be to stay at home.
To prevent being surprised, the State Department recommends that travelers visit not only its own database of current advisories, but also the websites of those countries' embassies in the United States for additional information, including entry/exit restrictions and permissible categories of travel.