Is It Safe to Travel in the U.S. Right Now?
Stefanie Waldek is a Brooklyn-based travel writer with over six years of experience. She covers various destinations, hotels, and travel products for TripSavvy.
Jillian Dara is a freelance journalist and fact-checker. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Michelin Guides, Hemispheres, DuJour, and Forbes.
As of December 22, there were more than 17 million confirmed cases and 316,844 deaths across the United States, spread across all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Bans and Business Shutdowns in the U.S.
Several cities and states have closed down non-essential businesses, limited bars and restaurants to takeout and delivery only, and enacted official bans on large events or gatherings of any number. Others have taken those directives a step farther by instating stay-at-home mandates (meaning residents are only allowed to leave home for essential needs and must practice social distancing en route). Some places that had instated lockdowns or stay-at-home orders are starting to gradually open up, most starting with essential businesses and still requiring masks or social distancing.
Governmental Travel Advisories and Restrictions
On March 19, the U.S. State Department issued a global “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory, discouraging all travel abroad. It also has urged that any U.S. citizens currently abroad return home now or stay in place.
The Europe travel ban remains. On March 14, President Trump expanded the previously announced ban (one that covered 26 countries within Europe’s Schengen Area) to also include Ireland and the United Kingdom. The restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, their immediate families, and permanent residents, but rather to non-residents who have visited the following countries—Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom—in the last 14 days.
When the first part of the travel ban was announced on March 11, the White House made the following statement: “The free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.” Initial restrictions began on at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020, and Ireland and the United Kingdom were added shortly after that.
President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have also agreed to close the U.S.-Canada border for non-essential travel for an indefinite amount of time.
Airline, Train, Bus, and Ride-Sharing Services
All major U.S. airlines, Amtrak, and most bus operators have waived change fees, allowing travelers to rebook travel for a later date. They have also, however, scaled back operations due to decreased demand, meaning that your flight, train, or bus service may be canceled. Check with your travel provider for specific details. If you have travel insurance, keep in mind that most plans do not cover epidemics or pandemics, so read the fine print carefully.
While mass transit is still operating in all major cities, it is advised to avoid traveling via them if possible. “If you can, move to a train car that is not as dense. If you see a packed train car, let it go by, wait for the next train. Same if you’re taking a bus,” said New York governor Andrew Cuomo during a press conference at the beginning of the pandemic. “It’s the density, the proximity that we’re trying to reduce.”
Uber and Lyft suspended carpooling options of their services (in which you’d share a car with another rider headed in the same direction) in the U.S. and Canada as part of the social distancing efforts; the regular ride-hailing service and the food delivery options are still available, but passengers will now see alerts when they open the app to consider limiting their travel to necessary rides only.
Attractions Closures and Event Cancellations
Sporting events across the country that were canceled have resumed with either limited live seating or no seating whatsoever.
Many major events across the U.S. have been either postponed or canceled, including the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and Coachella music festival in southern California. These events, and many like it, will not be offering refunds, so think twice about buying tickets to major events happening in the near future.
Many museums, fitness centers, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues are still closed across the country. Broadway theaters have extended closures to May 30, 2021; Walt Disney World and Disneyland has reopened, however, many regional theme parks remain closed.
Should You Travel in the U.S. Right Now?
In short: no, not right now. You should avoid all nonessential travel. While most people who contract COVID-19 will likely recover. It’s most dangerous to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems; however hospitals are seeing an increasing number of younger people being admitted as well. The major issue is spreading the disease—even if you’re a relatively healthy individual with little chance of dying from COVID-19, you will become a carrier if you are infected. Even if you don’t show symptoms, you could spread the virus to someone with a weakened immune system. Thus, containment and avoiding non-essential travel is key.
And if you were to travel for leisure reasons right now, it’s likely that your destination could be affected by closures of all or most businesses, attractions, and activities, so it’s best to plan for a later time. If you must travel, though, be sure to regularly wash your hands vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol when you do not have access to soap and water.
Travelling to Europe this winter is a bad idea, here’s why
Travelling to Europe this winter is a bad idea, here’s why
As the winter holidays seem closer than ever, the COVID-19 situation seems to have gotten worse in Europe.
As the winter holidays seem closer than ever, the COVID-19 situation seems to have gotten worse in Europe. Read less
As the winter holidays seem closer than ever, the COVID-19 situation seems to have gotten worse in Europe. European Union (EU) countries are facing a threat over rise in COVID-19 cases as travellers are now being warned from travelling to the EU this coming holiday season.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), several countries in the EU have been reporting high infection rates in this last seven days. In such a scenario, the ECDC is asking people not to travel to the EU countries unless it is out of necessity.
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ECDC has reportedly put countries such as Belgium, Austria, Croatia, Bulgaria, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania, and Slovenia into a dark red category of countries. The health agency has made this categorisation after these countries were found to have more than 500 infection cases per 100000 inhabitants in the last couple of weeks.
As of now, it is being reported that Austria, Romania, and Bulgaria have registered the highest infection rates. This is in tune with the data that has been provided by the WHO. On November 4, Romania reported 10196 new cases in the previous 24 hours, while Austria reported 4962 cases. Bulgaria on the other hand reported 5863 cases.
In fact most of Europe is currently facing a spike in cases. Countries such as Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland are all in the red category, and have registered more than 200 cases per 100000 inhabitants in the last two weeks. Poland too is in red, and so is Germany, which has been in the red category for quite sometime now. Germany’s Saxony and Thuringia regions are however in the dark red list.
Thereby, it is safe to say that travelling to Europe this winter holidays should be avoided, unless absolutely necessary.
Is it Safe to Travel to FLORIDA Right Now? (November Update)
Florida cities are not the safest in the country, with certain communities being safer than others. All major Florida cities have both attractive and crime-ridden disadvantaged areas. Smaller towns are also generally safe to visit.
Follow the standard precautions when visiting any new place, and you will have a trouble-free trip to Florida.
Is it safe to travel to Miami now?
Miami is generally a safe place to visit. Despite its reputation for crime of all kinds, it is as safe as any other Western megacity. The main tourist destinations, especially the far north, have undergone gentrification.
This suggests that muggings may occur at night in dodgy places.
Pickpocketing and purse snatching are the most common petty crimes in Miami, especially on Miami Beach and in the crowded streets of downtown.
Be careful and use common sense. Hold on to your purses and be mindful of how you carry them.
Is it safe to travel to Orlando now?
Orlando is generally considered a safe place to visit. Tourists should stay away from some neighborhoods in Orlando that have higher crime rates. Orlando visitors should be wary of petty crimes and parking ticket scams.
Orlando is divided into numerous neighborhoods and suburbs. West of downtown Orlando, in the neighborhoods of Pine Hills, Malibu Groves, Carver Shores, Signal Hill, Lake Sunset, Roosevelt Park and Washington Shores, are the problematic neighborhoods with the highest violent crime rates. However, there are numerous safe lodging options in Orlando. The weather is often cited by visitors as the most dangerous part of their trip to Orlando.
Hurricane Season in Florida
During the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30, the threat of hurricanes is very real for Florida.
If you want to be as safe as possible from hurricanes and still enjoy the pleasures of visiting Florida, the interior of Florida on the northern border with Georgia is the best place to visit. It is the least hurricane-prone area in Florida.
November 3 – Tourism in Florida on its way to recovery after Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, destroyed the region from Naples to Fort Myers to Port Charlotte to Sarasota on September 28, severely hurting tourism in Southwest Florida.
Economic recovery initiatives are already picking up steam in the area of Florida’s Gulf Coast, which is renowned for its gorgeous, serene beaches, boating, marine life, and more.
Donations can be made to the Support Fort Myers Hospitality Workers Relief Fund in order to help residents who have been affected and displaced as a result of Hurricane Ian. All donations will be given to employees of the hospitality industry in the following communities: Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel & Captiva Islands, Pine Island, Matlacha, Boca Grande, and the outer islands; Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Alva, Buckingham, and Lehigh Acres.
Why visit Florida in COVID times?
First and foremost – Florida has no entry restrictions!
Florida is an internationally recognized destination due to its Theme Parks and tropical weather. Travelers who love going to theme parks will never go wrong with Florida. In COVID times, when traveling has to some extent become a hustle, especially for people traveling with kids, Florida stood as one of the best destinations in 2021.
We have to be careful with the new Omicron variant. However, once the situation becomes stable again, Florida will probably once again become one of the most popular travel destinations also in 2022, especially among American citizens.
January 10 – Florida reporting record numbers of daily COVID-19 infections
Florida reported more than 126,000 new COVID-19 infections over the weekend – the highest multi-day increase since the beginning of the pandemic. The state reported 77,156 new cases on Saturday and 49,548 on Sunday.
The spike is attributed not only to the rapidly spreading Omicron strain but also to increased testing.
On the other hand, hospitalizations remain below their peak. Over the weekend, 9,888 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Florida. Whereas in summer 2021, there would be over 17,000 new hospital admissions every day.
December 13 – Coronavirus cases in Florida rising faster than in any other state
COVID-19 cases in the sunshine state have recently been rising faster than in any other state in the U.S. Also, three Omicron cases were confirmed in Florida last week.
According to the latest data from The New York Times, Florida recorded a 185 percent increase in daily coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, compared to the national increase that is now around 43 percent. On average, Florida is reporting nearly 2,000 new coronavirus infections a day.
On the other hand, around 1,404 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 each day. This figure has increased by six percent over the past fourteen days.
November 18 – Florida to pass bills limiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates
On Wednesday, November 17, Florida Republicans passed four bills that would protect workers who do not wish to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
If he signs the documents, Florida will become the first state that can fine companies who require the vaccine for employment. However, most companies do require COVID-19 vaccines, but employees can opt out for health or religious reasons.
DeSantis is expected to sign the bills in the upcoming days.
October 5 – COVID-19 cases in Florida finally dropping
For the week of September 24 to 30, the positivity rate in Florida has dropped to 6.5%, the lowest number since June.
In the past week, around 4,600 new infections daily were registered in the county. While during August, there were more than 21,000 new cases per day reported in Florida on average.
Through September and October, the number of hospitalizations has also been dropping. In the last week of September, they decreased by around 27%.
ℹ Florida COVID-19 Update for October 1, 2021
Total Confirmed Hospitalizations: 5,146 pic.twitter.com/g3UyfmsZO6
— Florida Hospital Association (@FLHospitalAssn) October 1, 2021
September 6 – Florida tourism continues to bloom despite high number of COVID-19 cases
Despite the spike in COVID-19 cases, tourism in Southwest Florida continues to rise. Actually, Lee and Collier Counties have had a record-breaking year in tourism.
Brian Hamman, Lee County commissioner, indicated that August 2021 numbers had been the best August numbers in the history of tourism tracking in the region. Other months have not been behind either. ‘In fact every month this year has been better than it was even in 2019.’ he said.
Usually, tourism tends to slow down by the end of summer in Florida. This year, the season is not over yet. Hotels there are still fully occupied, and they are starting to get booked for winter, too.
According to Hamman, people want to enjoy a bit of time off. But are scared of the international travel restrictions. Therefore, they choose somewhere they know, like Florida, for example.
August 24 – Pediatric cases make up to 20% of new COVID-19 infections in Orange County, Fla.
According to Alvina Chu, an epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, pediatric cases make up to 20% of new coronavirus infections in the county.
The trend seems to be shifting. While the positivity rate in the 25 to 44 age group remains high, children aged between 5 to 14 years old now contribute the most to the newest COVID-19 cases.
Based on data from HHS.gov, as of Monday, August 22, there were 257 pediatric cases across Florida, 176 of which were hospitalized.
The predominant strain is the highly contagious Delta variant which affects all age groups. The median is 34 years.
August 9 – Hospitalizations skyrocketing in Florida as DeSantis defend unvaccinated citizens
The number of current COVID hospitalizations is “unlike anything the state has seen before,” said the head of Florida’s largest hospital association earlier today.
Even in the face of irrefutable evidence, Gov. Ron DeSantis will maintain his “no-mandate” mandate which means that zero coordinated actions will be taken to control the spread.
He also added that the media is just being “judgmental,” against those who are unvaccinated.
However, DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw recognized that only 6% of hospitalized people are vaccinated.
“We recognize that cases and hospitalizations have shifted to a younger demographic because we have been so successful with vaccinating seniors,” said Pushaw.
July 15 – COVID-19 cases in Florida on the rise while Gov. DeSaints forbids companies to safely resume activities
The Department of Health of Florida has reported an unusual increase in COVID-19 activity over the last week.
Over the last 7 days, the state counted 23,747 new cases with a positivity rate of 7.8%. The trend was at about 4% positivity in the past weeks. Also, Florida reported 172 new deaths.
Even considering the figures, Gov. Rob DeSantis continues to refuse to allow companies to require customers of “risky activities” to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
As reported by The Washing Post, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has sued Florida’s surgeon general, accusing the state of preventing the company from “safely and soundly” restarting operations.
June 29 – Florida to resume cruise ships with both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers next week
Cruise ships are set to safely resume operations next week in Florida.
Local mayors of South Florida had sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to reconsider his refusal to ask cruise travelers to present a vaccine certificate, but their claim was not heard.
“There aren’t restrictions either way, whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated that shouldn’t limit your ability to participate,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody told reporters.
This does not mean cruises won’t be safe. Unvaccinated travelers will need to bring a negative COVID-19 test, get retested in the embarkation hall prior to boarding. Furthermore, some cruise venues will be “for vaccinated people only.”
June 14 – Florida to lift all COVID-19 related restrictions on July 1
Effective July 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis will lift all COVID-19-related restrictions across the state. So far, only 48.8% of the population has received at least one jab of a vaccine, which is insufficient to reach herd immunity according to the CDC.
According to the governor, “If we have widespread vaccinations that are over 99% effective, what’s the evidence basis for somebody to wear a mask now?”
Over the course of the pandemic, he has refused to follow most of the epidemiology guidelines because he did not want to “take the same approach as other lockdown governors.”
With this new executive order, DeSantis will make sure that “local governments cannot arbitrarily close [our] schools or businesses.” Additionally, he barred businesses from requiring employees to provide proof of being vaccinated.