Fully vaccinated people can travel safely again, CDC says

CDC Issues Mandatory Mask Mandate forPlanes and All Public Transportation.The Centers for Disease Controland Prevention has made itmandatory for people to wearface masks on planes and allforms of public transportation.The order also makes mask-wearingmandatory at all transportation hubs. .That includes bus and ferry terminals, train andsubway stations, airports and seaports.The order went into effect late Monday night,one minute before midnight.People must wear masks that completelycover both the mouth and nose while awaiting,boarding, disembarking, or traveling onairplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways,buses, taxis, and ride-shares as they aretraveling into, within, or out of theUnited States and U.S. territories, CDC, via statement .Children under age 2 arean exception to the rule,as well as people whocannot safely wear masksdue to a disability. .Face masks can be temporarily removedto eat, drink, take medication or communicatewith someone who is hearing impaired.The CDC anticipates “widespread voluntarycompliance” and “support” from federal agencies.However, the CDC can enforce the orderthrough criminal penalties if necessary.

More than 100M Americans have received at least first dose of vaccine

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Friday to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward.

The CDC also said more than 100 million Americans — or about one-third of the population — have received at least the first dose of the COVID vaccine. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose.

Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky still urged caution and said she would “advocate against general travel overall” given the rising number of infections. “If you are vaccinated, it is lower risk,” she said.

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The agency had said it would update its guidance as more people got vaccinated and evidence mounted about the protection the shots provide.

The CDC is sticking to its guidance for unvaccinated people to avoid unnecessary travel. If they do travel, the agency says to get tested one to three days before the trip and three to five days after. People should also stay home and quarantine for seven days after travel, even if their COVID-19 test is negative, the agency said.

The new guidance says:

  • Fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S., without getting tested for the coronavirus or quarantining. People should still wear a mask, socially distance and avoid crowds, the agency says.
  • For international travel, the agency says vaccinated people do not need to get a COVID-19 test before leaving, unless the destination country requires it.
  • For travelers coming into the U.S., vaccinated people should still get a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight and be tested three to five days after arrival. They do not need to quarantine. The agency noted the potential introduction of virus variants and differences in vaccine coverage around the world for the cautious guidance on overseas travel.

Already, air travel in the United States has been picking back up. Although traffic remains down by nearly half from a year ago, more than 1 million travelers daily have been going through U.S. airports in recent weeks.

Airlines do not require COVID-19 tests or proof of vaccination for travel in the U.S.

The CDC cited recent research on the real-world effects of the vaccines for its updated guidance. Last month, the agency said fully vaccinated people could visit with each other indoors without wearing masks or social distancing. It also said vaccinated people could visit with unvaccinated people from a single household under similar conditions, as long as the unvaccinated individuals were at low risk for severe illness if infected.

The U.S. began its vaccine rollout in mid-December. Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses given a few weeks apart. A one-shot vaccine by Johnson & Johnson was given the green light by regulators at the end of February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.