After months of lockdown and closing its territory to the world, the U.S. has finally opened its borders. As of November 8, 2021, international travelers are now allowed to visit the country, provided that they are fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test upon departure.
This is good news for those who have loved ones in the U.S. who they haven’t seen in a while. As U.S. borders reopen, doors are also flinging widely for families to unite after several months apart. But before you book the first flight to the U.S. to see your loved ones, you need to make sure that COVID-19 precautions are part of your itinerary.
Traveling during COVID-19 is a different feat that requires you to be more detailed and cautious to prevent you and your family from contracting the virus. If you’re scheduled to visit the U.S. anytime soon, here are important tips to help you stay safe in your travels.
Before Your Flight
The situation of COVID-19 is different around the world. Hence, you need to be properly informed about the risks and scenarios to expect in your travels. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you take the following things into consideration:
- The rate of COVID-19 spread in the State you are visiting
- The safety measures mandated by your chosen airlines and destination
- Whether or not you or the people you are traveling with are high risk
- Whether or not the person you are visiting is high risk
- Quarantine regulations in the U.S. for international travelers
The good news is that COVID-19 cases are declining in the U.S. thanks to mass vaccinations. But the Biden administration still set some air travel policies you should be aware of. To visit the U.S., travelers must:
- Be fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the U.S. FDA or WHO
- Show proof of a negative COVID-19 test valid for 72 hours within the departure
- Comply with spot-checks conducted by quarantine officers of the CDC
Exemptions to the vaccination requirement are reserved for people who have medical conditions that prevent them from getting the vaccine and those who have participated in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, among others.
Disinfect all means of transport
Taking precautionary measures to protect yourself from COVID-19 doesn’t start when you’ve boarded the plane. They should be observed the moment you step out of your home and hit the road to the airport.
Make sure that the vehicle you use for transit has been cleaned and thoroughly disinfected, especially high-touch surfaces such as seat belts, windows, doors, handles, steering wheels, and controls. Provide a hand sanitizer or alcohol you can use throughout the trip.
Practice basic safety measures in the vehicle
On your way to the airport, start practicing basic safety measures in the car. These include mask-wearing, keeping your distance, and sanitizing your hands regularly. If you are traveling with other family members or friends, it’s ideal that you ride to the airport separately to limit the number of people in the vehicle. If feasible, keep your windows open to improve ventilation. Otherwise, opt to set your air conditioning unit to non-recirculation mode.
In the Airport and Plane
From security lines to check-in terminals, there’s a lot to be done in the airport prior to boarding your flight. This means that you come in contact with a lot of people and high-touch surfaces. Make sure that you sanitize frequently as you go about the hustle and bustle of checking into your flight. Carry alcohol or hand sanitizer with you and avoid touching your face to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Keep your mask on
U.S. Federal law makes mask-wearing mandatory in airports and on-board the plane for all travelers that are two years old and above. Hence, every airline has its own mask mandates that you need to abide by. While it seems like a drag to wear a mask over your nose and mouth for hours on end, this simple act can go a long way in keeping you safe in your travels.
Keep your face mask on throughout your trip — from the moment you leave your house until you arrive in your home or hotel room in the U.S.
When You Arrive in the U.S.
Be informed about COVID-19 safety mandates
The different States will have unique mandates to curb the spread of the virus. Depending on your destination, you may be required to wear masks outdoors or comply with self-quarantine measures. Make sure that you know what is required of you in the State you are visiting so that you don’t run into any problems with local authorities and safety officers.
Several States in the U.S. have adopted a no-contact policy and created digital means to settle transactions in restaurants, transportation, and hotels. It would be ideal for you to opt for these contactless options, such as checking in online, requesting digital hotel room keys, etc. The goal is to reduce contact with high-touch surfaces, so avoid physical contact when and where you can.
Watch out for symptoms
Unfortunately, COVID-19 looms everywhere and the slightest exposure to a person carrying the virus can put you at risk. Throughout your U.S. visit, watch out for any symptoms of COVID 19, and if you develop any of them, get tested and undergo self-quarantine to protect your family from getting infected.
The U.S. opening its borders gives you an opportunity to be with your family in the U.S. While we do encourage you to make the trip and reunite with your loved ones, make sure that you are being as cautious as possible to prevent you and those around you from COVID-19.