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Americans are getting back to traveling for business and pleasure despite surges in COVID-19 case rates. During recent business trips from California to Salt Lake City, Denver and Nashville, we noticed that airports were crowded, planes were full and only a small percentage of travelers were wearing masks.
Some travelers have reported experiencing symptoms, testing positive and having to isolate upon their return home.
Among variants currently in circulation, the BA.5 Omicron variant accounted for just 7.6 percent of cases by June 4. However, BA.5 appears to be spreading rapidly, a trend that has occurred with other strains that became dominant in the U.S. The BA.2.12.1 variant was responsible for 62.2 percent of cases and the BA.2 variant for 24.8 percent of cases during the May 29 to June 4 reporting period.
The Transportation Security Administration anticipates a busy summer travel season. Passenger volumes are projected to match or exceed pre-pandemic numbers. At airports, travelers may need to have more patience due to changes in procedures designed to enhance screening operations and help minimize the spread of COVID-19. If you will be going through a TSA checkpoint, you can review items that are allowed and prohibited for carryon at What Can I Bring?
For domestic travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following recommendations:
If you are vaccinated, remember to bring proof of vaccination with you regardless of your destination. You may be asked to provide it to authorities or at commercial enterprises. If you are not vaccinated, you may need to show a recent negative test result to gain admission at some venues.
Prior to international travel, the CDC has recommended getting tested for COVID-19 no more than three days before departure. The Biden administration announced on June 10 that international travelers will no longer be required show a negative COVID test before departing for the U.S. from another country, effective June 12. The policy is subject to revision depending on conditions that will be evaluated by the CDC. Refer to this page for other international travel recommendations.
Before leaving the U.S., here are some other reminders:
If you are planning to go on a cruise, visit Cruise Travel during COVID-19.
If you haven’t traveled in a while, give yourself a chance to get your “sea legs” back. For personal travel, you may want to consider taking multiple shorter trips during the summer rather than one long trip to a single destination. This approach allows for greater flexibility and protects against the disappointment of potential destination-specific lockdowns.
Remember that there may be staffing shortages that affect transportation availability and scheduling across the board. At peak times, airports, train stations and bus depots may have traffic surges, or there may be construction delays. Arriving early for your departure helps reduce stress. A trip is more enjoyable when you have contingency plans, can relax while enroute and feel fresh on arrival.
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