The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its policy on non-essential travel to state that fully vaccinated people are free to travel throughout the US without being tested for COVID-19 or quarantining.
The new guidelines specify that fully vaccinated individuals can travel within the US without first requiring a COVID test or quarantining, however are still encouraged to wear a face mark and socially distance as much as possible while travelling.
Fully vaccinated people travelling into the US from other countries will still need to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight to the country, however will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.
At present, the CDC is still advising vaccinated individuals to be cautious around travelling internationally, due to the seen damage of emerging variants of COVID-19 from Europe and Africa.
At a White House briefing on Friday, CDC director Rochelle Walensky cautioned that while fully vaccinated people can now travel at low risk to themselves, “I would advocate against general travel overall.”
“Our guidance is silent on recommending or not recommending fully vaccinated people travel. Our guidance speaks to the safety of doing so,” she said.
Providing guidance amid a changing pandemic and science is complex, she acknowledged.
“The science shows us that getting fully vaccinated allows you to do more things safely and it’s important for us to provide that guidance even in the context of rising cases,” Walensky said.
“… At the same time, we must balance the science with the fact that most Americans are not yet fully vaccinated, which is likely contributing to a rise in cases.”
Prior to Friday’s announcement, the CDC was advising against all unnecessary travel, even for fully vaccinated individuals.
However, in light of the fact that now about 30 per cent of the US population – 100 million people – have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, the CDC has eased up its recommendations on travel.
Unvaccinated people are still being advised by the CDC to avoid all non-essential travel.
The announcement was made just prior to the Easter holiday weekend.
In fact, on Friday, the Transportation Security Administration reported the highest thoroughfare of passengers at airports seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, with over 1.58 million passengers passing through.
Some US airlines appeared unprepared for the spike in travel over the long weekend, with Atlanta-based Delta Air Line forced to cancel nearly 100 flights on Easter Sunday alone due to a shortage of pilots.