The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing to advise Americans not travel at this time and in a statement sent to The Washington Post, the agency recommended people “delay spring break travel until 2022.”
Still, many students and families are expected to travel during the months of March and April, albeit at a lower volume than in non-pandemic years. If you are among those people, there are things you can do to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus.
Tips from TSA
For those choosing to travel, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is offering tips on navigating airport checkpoint screenings safely during the pandemic.
- Reduce touchpoints — The TSA says it’s taking steps to reduce touchpoints in checkpoints and travelers can do the same. When you remove all items from your pockets before walking through screening equipment, officials recommend putting those things directly into your carry-on instead of a bin. And if the checkpoint has a computed tomography scanner, travelers may leave their electronics inside their carry-on, so pay attention to the guidance that the TSA officer is providing about what items can remain in your carry-on.
- Pack an extra mask — Make sure to wear a mask while traveling, because they’re required in airports and on airplanes. If you aren’t wearing a mask at the security checkpoint, a TSA officer will remind you to put it on. The TSA recommends packing an extra face covering or two for a trip in case an elastic strap breaks, a mask becomes soiled, or it needs to be swapped out for a fresh one.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wipes — The TSA is allowing travelers to bring up to one 12-ounce container of liquid hand sanitizer per person through the checkpoint. This will add some time to your checkpoint screening experience, but officials say it’s worth that extra minute or two. You can also bring sanitizing wipes, which have no limit.
- Pack smart — To avoid a TSA officer having to go through your items, travelers should know what can and cannot go in their carry-on bags. Make sure not to pack any prohibited items to help reduce touchpoints. If you’re unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on, checked bag, either or neither, you can check on the free my TSA app. Or you can ask TSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA.
- Pack food in clear plastic bags — If you plan to travel with food, the TSA says it’s a best practice to pack it in clear plastic bags and place those bags in your carry-on. When you get to the security checkpoint, remove the clear bag containing your food and place that bag into the bin to reduce the opportunity for cross-contamination between the food and bins.
Tips from CDC
Although the CDC is advising against traveling at this time, if you must travel, the agency has offered these tips to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
- Get vaccinated if eligible— If you’re able to, the CDC says to get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and wait two weeks after getting your second dose to travel. It takes time for your body to build protection after an vaccination.
- Get tested— The CDC says to get tested with a viral test one to three days before you travel and to keep a copy of your test results with you during travel in case you are asked for them. Do not travel if you test positive.
- Check travel restrictions— Different places have different travel restrictions because of varying rates of community spread. Before you go somewhere, the CDC says to make sure you check the area’s travel restrictions. The agency has a tool to search restrictions by location here.
- Wear a mask— Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations.
- Avoid crowds and keep distance— The CDC says travelers should avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who did not travel with you. It’s important to do this everywhere — both indoors and outdoors.
- Practice good hygiene— You should wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, as well as avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. It’s also advised to bring extra supplies, such as masks, sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Before traveling, the CDC also says to avoid contact with anyone who is sick.