Unvaccinated people should not travel around the country until they have been inoculated, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ahead of the holiday travel season.
“Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated,” the CDC recommended this week. “People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization can travel safely within the United States.”
The CDC said unvaccinated people who do have to travel should get tested one to three days before their trip, get tested three to five days after traveling, and self-quarantine for seven days, regardless of a negative test.
Fully vaccinated travelers are still encouraged to wear a mask in crowded areas and if they come into contact with unvaccinated people, but don’t have to get tested before or after travel.
The strong guidance comes as infections have begun dropping in the United States, but the 7-day moving average of daily cases remains above 97,000, according to the CDC. The delta variant accounts for more than 99% of all cases in the U.S.
The agency noted in total, 65% of people in the country have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 56% are fully vaccinated, and 3.2% have received a booster dose.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it’s “too soon” to tell if Americans will be able to gather safely for the Christmas holidays this year.
“We’ve just got to [concentrate] on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time,” Fauci said in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get… those cases down. And we can do it by people getting vaccinated and also in the situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted because we know that they can help greatly in diminishing infection and diminishing advanced disease, the kinds of data that are now accumulating in real time.”
The CDC’s new recommendation closely follows the guidance it issued for Labor Day this year when CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky advised unvaccinated Americans to avoid travel ahead of the holiday weekend. Following the unofficial end of summer, the Transportation Security Administration said it screened nearly 1 million fewer passengers compared to the Fourth of July.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.