Coronavirus and Travel: What You Should Know

As the end of the year draws closer, more and more of us are making travel plans for the holidays. But it’s important to remember that unless you are fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus, the CDC does still recommend avoiding travel. For those who are unvaccinated and must travel, they advise getting a COVID-19 test one to three days before traveling, as well as three to five days after returning. If getting tested after traveling isn’t possible, the safest course of action is to self-quarantine at home for 10 days following any kind of travel.

These safety recommendations from the CDC guidelines were put in place to address the rising number of travelers screened by the TSA over the last few months. More than double the amount of people passed through airport security on October 26th this year compared to 2020. And while travel numbers still haven’t reached their pre-COVID levels, they are definitely on the rise.

So, if you’ll be traveling this season, here are some quick tips for travel safety during the pandemic:

Going through the airport

The TSA is recommending specific precautions to help with COVID-19 prevention at the airport. For example, instead of placing personal items like phones or keys into the plastic bins, put them inside your carry-on luggage. You should also maintain six feet from others whenever possible. Travelers are required to wear masks as well – with the fines for refusing a mask ranging from $250 for first-time offenders to up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.

You can now bring liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces in your carry-on luggage. Driver’s licenses that expired after March 1, 2020 can also be used as an acceptable form of ID for up to one year after the expiration date, to account for those who haven’t been able to safely renew their licenses due to the pandemic. In addition. The deadline to upgrade your regular license to a security-enhanced Real ID was extended to May 3, 2023, as well.

Safety practices on the plane

Masks are also required on every airplane by all passengers and air crews for the entire duration of the flight, including boarding and deplaning. It’s important to note that all airlines have resumed booking middle seats, as some had blocked them to promote social distancing. 

Food and drink service has also resumed for many airlines, although some airlines, like Southwest and American Airlines (economy class only), have stopped serving alcohol onboard through January 2022 due to a spike in passenger behavioral incidents.

The major U.S. airlines have taken additional COVID-19 travel precautions to help ensure guests’ safety onboard. Namely, the addition of high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters is proven to remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. The CDC guidelines have confirmed that most viruses and germs don’t spread easily on flights, due to the manner of air circulation and filtration.

General travel safety best practices

These same preventive measures, like social distancing and wearing a mask, are generally advised to follow for any travel situation – not just airplanes. Because of the potential for crowding, you might choose to avoid places that tourists frequent or taking public transportation for the time being. In addition, be sure to be proactive about safety precautions for children, but especially being careful to follow these tips for traveling with unvaccinated children.

If we work together to ensure everyone’s safety this holiday season, we can help to minimize outbreaks of the Coronavirus, even during one of the busiest travel times of year.

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