Is it safe to travel during a pandemic this holiday season?
It depends. It may be safe if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but officials say people who have not been vaccinated should postpone travel.
Regardless of vaccination status, all travelers should continue to take precautions, such as avoiding crowding in enclosed spaces without masks, says Dr Keith Armitage, an infectious disease expert at Case Western Reserve University.
“The delta option really took us back to an earlier period of the pandemic,” he says.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not traveling if you are sick, or if you test positive for COVID-19 and the isolation period has not yet ended – even if you are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people who decide to travel must be tested for COVID-19 one to three days before travel and three to five days after returning.
The agency says all travelers are still required to wear masks on trains, planes and other covered areas of public transport.
Airlines declare that the cockpits of the aircraft are not dangerous because they are well circulated and filtered air. However, there is no need to vaccinate or test before domestic flights and passengers can remove their masks while eating or drinking.
Hotels are not dangerous for vaccinated people as long as they wear masks next to strangers, Armitage said. More dangerous are family gatherings with unvaccinated people, especially with the elderly or people with health problems.
Health experts suggest examining the incidence rates and camouflage rules in the place you visit before you travel.