Editor’s Note: This story from April 2 was updated to reflect an announcement about plans for opening California up to larger groups June 15.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance today to say that in light of studies that show vaccinations are effective in real-world situations, fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves. Those who have received the last recommended dose of the vaccine and have waited two weeks can travel within the United States without a Covid test or post-travel quarantine.
The CDC still recommends taking precautions such as wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, social distancing and washing hands frequently. Fully vaccinated people must still have a negative Covid test result before they return to the United States from other countries, but new guidance did not suggest quarantining if the test is negative. And Unvaccinated travelers should still get tested 1-3 days before domestic travel and 3-5 days after travel.
CDC records show that as of April 1, 2.7 million doses a day had been administered on average in the previous week for a total of 157.6 million doses delivered to 101.8 million people and 17.5 percent of the population fully vaccinated. President Biden pledged that all Americans will be eligible for vaccinations by May 1 and the country will be closer to normal by July 4.
“Vaccines can help us return to the things we love about life, so we encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as they have the opportunity,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said relaxing the guidance on travel for individuals who have been fully Covid vaccinated was “a major step in the right direction that is supported by the science and will take the brakes off the industry that has been hardest hit by the fallout of Covid by far.” He added, “As travel comes back, U.S. jobs come back.”
Dow called the change an important one because it removes a key barrier to domestic travel and said rescinding the recommendation that international visitors must quarantine also is an important incremental step. “The year-long halt on travel has devastated U.S. employment, with travel-supported jobs accounting for 65 percent of all U.S. jobs lost last year, and this is an opportunity to begin reclaiming a lot of what’s been lost. The travel industry’s mantra throughout the pandemic has been to be guided by the science, which clearly shows that now is the right time for this move.”
California Plans to Open to Groups
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that the state will conditionally reopen on June 15, including permission to hold conventions of up to 5,000 people with larger events allowed if all attendees have been fully vaccinated or Covid-tested. “With the expectation of an abundance of doses coming in from the federal government through the end of this month and into May, we can confidently say by June 15 that we can start to open up as business as usual — subject to ongoing mask wearing and ongoing vigilance,” Newsom said at a San Francisco news conference.
A week earlier, California Department of Public Health announced that it would allow indoor concerts, theater performances and private gatherings starting April 15. The number of people who can gather will depend on what risk tier the county is in on a given day. In all tiers, modifications are required to reduce risk, including pre-purchased tickets or a defined guest list and assigned seating.
Attendees can be tested for Covid or show proof of vaccination. As of Friday, California had administered 18.9 million doses to almost 6.9 million people out of 40 million residents. All adults could be eligible there by April 15.
“We will continue to work with businesses, arts organizations, community groups and others to open carefully, with health and safety top of mind, so that we never have to go backwards,” said Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to Governor Newsom and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).
Disney has announced that Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure will reopen on April 30 with limited capacity to California residents. To buy tickets, contact information for each person will be collected for contract tracing purposes.
Jay Burress, president and CEO of Visit Anaheim called the announcement at the beginning of April a good first step. “We are looking forward to the state expanding the guidelines to include conventions within the next couple of weeks.”