Coronavirus Travel Restrictions: What Do Families Need To Know?
If quarantine has you yearning for a summer vacation like never before, there are a few things to keep in mind before booking that trip. So what do families need to know about coronavirus travel restrictions? Taking a trip is possible, but the whole world is still pretty changed by the pandemic. (Plus, traveling with kids is a challenge in itself, even under the best of circumstances.)
Because COVID-19 safety restrictions are changing constantly, it's smart to double-check your destination's rules before hitting the road. "As more states open up and try to go back to normal, there will be an influx of people traveling again. Wherever you plan to go, check with the official local city, county, or visitor website to find out what is open and what is closed before you arrive," Lynnette Braillard of Visit Port Angeles, the official visitor website for the City of Port Angeles, tells Romper. Also, remember that some destinations are not accepting visitors yet. "Families should know that many places have still yet to open; it is important to keep up with what is going on in the location you decide to travel," travel expert Kayla Rauh tells Romper. If you're willing to adapt to these changes, here's how you can travel safely in 2020.
1. Hygiene Guidelines Apply Everywhere
Expect to pack some face masks and hand sanitizer, because COVID-19 hygiene guidelines are basically the same everywhere. "Even while traveling, we ask that visitors remain diligent with hygiene guidelines established by healthcare organizations to combat this virus by washing their hands frequently or using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available and wearing face masks while in public places," Karen Riordan, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Visit Myrtle Beach tells Romper. Even though everybody needs one, there's no way to take a vacation from coronavirus itself quite yet.
2. Visiting A Different Country Is Not Easy Now
The days of flashing your passport and immediately exploring a different country are on hold, at least for now. "For many people the choice is simple, do not travel abroad unless you absolutely have to for work or other purposes. Depending on which country you are visiting will determine whether you have to self isolate there for 14 days before being allowed to continue with your trip," U.K. travel expert Joe Spencer tells Romper. "Many high level officials in the travel industry are predicting that International travel won't be back to some degree of normality until 2021." Consider taking a domestic trip instead.
3. Visiting Different States Can Also Be Tricky
However, even domestic travel to someplace far from home has its challenges as well. "If you're planning to visit family out of state a fair distance away, you're probably best planning to stay for a little bit longer because you simply don't know whether there may be a rise in the virus again and we have to go back into lockdown, which will reduce your chances to travel again," says Spencer. Yep, that whole getting home part could be delayed.
4. Not All Outdoor Locations Are Open Yet
Even if you plan to venture out into nature, first make sure your destination is open. "The Olympic National Park has been reopening in phases," explains Braillard, who recommends checking their website for the most up-to-date information. "Currently, Lake Crescent area has opened for day-use as well as some hiking trails like Marymere Falls... all coastal areas and beaches within the Olympic National Park will remain closed until further notice. Coastal areas include trails, parking areas, beaches and facilities at Kalalock, Mora and Ozette." Although it's possible to safely go outside during the coronavirus quarantine, not all outdoor spaces are prepared for visitors quite yet.
5. Air Travel Requires Extra Safety Precautions
Your airplane experience will also have some changes. "Most airlines are requiring every person to wear a mask on their flight, with many airports leaning towards these being a requirement even in the terminal," says Rauh. "Come prepared, or you could be stopped from boarding your flight. Most airlines are also forgoing service to keep contact to a minimum. Do not expect to get a beverage, or meal service if you are flying." Some airlines are also checking your temperature, as Rauh further explains. Check with your airline to make sure you understand their specific, up-to-date restrictions.
6. Camping Might Not Be An Option Yet
Double-check before heading out to your favorite campground. "Camping will be limited. Clallam County will still have a no camping allowed in Phase 2 until the rest of the state moves to a Phase 2 reopening. National Park campgrounds are still closed as well," says Braillard. Hopefully, your campground of choice will be ready for visitors.
7. Spectator Events Are Out For A While
Even though quarantine restrictions are gradually easing up, don't expect to join a large crowd very soon. "In Phase 2, we can increase public and private gatherings from no more than 10 people to no more than 50 people, while continuing to follow social distancing," Molly Castano, Communications Manager for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, tells Romper. "Therefore, nightclubs and day clubs and live sporting event venues and live performance venues with spectators will remain closed for the time being." It may take a little more time before you and the family can attend a game together again.
8. Big Cities May Take Longer To Reopen
Major metropolitan areas will need to reopen at their own rate. "NYC is currently still on pause and we will be following the safety guidelines of the city and state that should be created as the City begins to reopen," Alyssa Schmid of NYCgo tells Romper.
9. Social Distancing Is Still Important
The typical tourist attractions may be off the table for a little while longer. "When traveling with families, you want to take into account the exposure for children, and will want to limit high-exposure activities. For families, road-trips are best, or meeting family. You’ll want to avoid crowds, though," says Miller. This means that theme park visit may need to be delayed, at least for a little while.
10. Expect More Wait Time
Budget a little extra time for your vacation activities. "While our beaches and many restaurants, hotels and attractions have re-opened across the Myrtle Beach area, they have done so by implementing strict sanitation and safety protocols that promote social distancing," says Riordan. "Right now, many of the area’s restaurants and attractions are operating at reduced capacity and may continue to do so for the summer and beyond until state and local leadership determine it is safe to operate at full capacity." Consider securing a reservation if you're set on visiting a particular restaurant or attraction.
11. Not All Facilities Are Open
Planning ahead for your trip involves a few extra considerations right now. "Plan for public restrooms to be closed at area parks," says Braillard. Double-check to see whether rest stops will be open along your driving route. Really, nothing makes a vacation weird quite like trying to take a potty break on the side of the road.
It won't be quite like last summer vacation (or any of the summer vacations before), but a getaway of some kind is still possible this year.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.
Lynnette Braillard, Visit Port Angeles, the official visitor website for the City of Port Angeles
Molly Castano, Communications Manager for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Kayla Rauh, travel expert, member of the advisory board for Travel Enthusiast
Alyssa Schmid, NYCgo
Joe Spencer, U.K. travel expert and owner of Holiday Park Ace