When will it hit and what will it look like? Those are just a few unanswered questions about a possible second wave of COVID-19.
When can you travel around the USA again without restriction? Not yet, according to guidelines President Donald Trump shared with states last week.
Though there is no federal travel ban, many states require or recommend travelers from other states to self-quarantine for two weeks, effectively discouraging interstate travel.
Trump’s “Opening Up America Again” plan is aimed at easing social distancing restrictions and reopening parts of the country once they are able to meet certain benchmarks – most notably, a consistent downward trajectory in COVID-19 cases.
Governors will make the decision to lift stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions. Wednesday, the National Governors Association weighed in with its own recommendations in a report called Roadmap to Recovery.
The report does not offer much advice on how to safely resume interstate travel. It didn’t tell states that border others with high numbers of cases to remove their highway checkpoints. Nor did it tell the nearly 30 states with quarantine restrictions for returning residents or new arrivals that they should rescind those orders.
Though 15 states announced plans for easing lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, they have yet to change their traveler quarantine requirements.
The NGA did suggest that states establish regional partnerships to address questions of interstate travel and support consistency, especially in metro areas that straddle state lines.
Some have already done so: California is moving forward in coordination with Washington and Oregon. Governors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island announced plans to form a joint task force. So have the governors of several Midwestern states, including Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky.
“Governors and state health officials will need to develop a plan for addressing interstate travel and tourism, including travel to and from one state to another state that may have high incidence of COVID-19,” the report said.
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Wisconsin’s governor and six others in the Midwest say they’ll coordinate on reopening their economies. The other states are Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. (April 16)
In its three-phase approach, the White House advised that travel should not resume immediately. In phase one, the recommendation is to minimize nonessential travel. In phase two, nonessential travel can resume. The third phase, in states and regions with no evidence of a resurgence, lifts most restrictions.
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A Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security report said “transit should be opened with careful mitigation measures” and described transportation as a “fairly high-risk setting,” noting that airplanes, buses and trains all have prolonged close contact – and a high number of contacts – but that there is potential to institute measures to decrease risk of coronavirus transmission.
Things travelers should consider before traveling domestically
Research whether your destination has a requirement to self-quarantine. Many order or recommend that travelers from other states isolate for 14 days.
Research stay-at-home orders in your destination state. Even if you don’t have to self-quarantine, restaurants and other businesses might be closed, effectively leaving travelers with little to do and few options for meals.
If you’re driving, find out if there will be checkpoints along the way. Visit the websites of the governor’s office and state highway patrol for the areas you’ll pass through.
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, David Jackson
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