January 2022 Covid-19 Travel Updates

The end-of-year travel rush is now complete. If you’re planning to travel in January, the crowds might be lighter for most destinations. However, there are several travel restrictions to bear in mind as the world grapples with several coronavirus variants and other safety risks.

United States Travel Restrictions

Here are some guidelines that can affect domestic travel within the United States.

Hawaii

Hawaii continues to be the only state with an entry quarantine for visitors and returning residents. It’s still possible to waive the mandatory quarantine with a negative diagnostic test or by having proof of vaccination through the state’s pre-travel testing program.

However, there are two recent changes that can make it easier to enter Hawaii:

  • No longer need to complete the pre-arrival Travel and Health Form (effective January 4, 2022)
  • The self-quarantine period shortens from 10 days to 5 days (effective January 3, 2022)

The reduced quarantine period reflects the updated CDC recommendations for unvaccinated travelers. You may still wish to wear a mask for extra protection even when one isn’t required.

Chicago

Chicago currently recommends that unvaccinated travelers from states with an orange risk rating get a post-travel test on days 3-5 and self-quarantine for 7 full days. As of January 5, 2022, every US state and territory has an orange rating.

There are no restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals that are not experiencing any symptoms and have no known exposure.

Mask Mandates

Many major cities across the United States have indoor mask mandates for public places and private businesses. The guidelines vary by city. Some of the participating destinations include:

  • Atlanta
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • Stamford, CT
  • Washington, DC

Most of the mandates became effective in late December 2021 due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant and other highly-contagious viruses. In addition, some cities may also have a vaccine mandate to enter select businesses and attractions.

New York (currently through February 1, 2022) and California (until January 15, 2022) currently have statewide mask mandates. However, these state-level requirements may be extended if the infection rates remain high. This is possible as the United States registers record-high positive test results once again.

International Travel Restrictions

The international travel guidelines are a mixed bag as governments rescind some travel bans focusing on the peak Christmas/New Year’s season. However, the omicron variant and the newly-named IHU variant continue to slow reopening plans.

United States Africa Travel Ban Ends

The United States let its Africa travel ban end on December 31, 2021, as the contagion threat is dissipating from this part of the world. The affected countries were:

  • Botswana
  • eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe

Non-US citizens coming from these countries can fly into the United States again and are subject to the current entry guidelines. Two requirements are having a negative pre-arrival test taken no more than 24 hours before departure and being fully vaccinated.

United States Entry Testing Guidelines

On December 6, 2021, the United States shortened the pre-arrival testing window for returning citizens and visitors. Regardless of your vaccination status, you must receive a negative pre-arrival test within 24 hours of your departing flight. Under the previous guidelines, vaccinated travelers could get one up to 72 hours before flying.

Canada

US citizens can continue driving or flying to Canada. However, you must be fully vaccinated and have a negative pre-arrival test no older than 72 hours for either entry method. Unvaccinated travelers must quarantine for 14 days in an approved facility. It’s also necessary to be vaccinated to use public transit.

There are no quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors, but that can change if case counts increase as winter progresses.

However, the coronavirus restrictions vary by province. Ontario, for example, is calling for the temporary closure of museums and other indoor events through at least January 17, 2022. There may also be increased capacity restrictions. Prince Edward Island (or Anne of Green Gables fame) requires nonresidents to acquire a visitor pass in advance for their travel dates.

Europe

After a wide reopening in the summer of 2021, western Europe gradually tightened its travel restrictions. The more severe conditions first stem from the delta variant, but colder temperatures also play a factor.

Most countries continue to require full vaccination and a negative pre-arrival test to visit. Now that booster shots are widely available, you may see if your destination requires a third shot before travel.

Updated guidelines for popular destinations include:

  • Italy: A “Super” Green Pass (ie, fully vaccinated or proof of recovery) is mandatory to stay in hotels and use public transit from January 10, 2022, to March 31, 2022. There’s also a nationwide mask mandate. An FFP2/KN95 is required for public transit from December 25, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
  • France: Paris requires all persons to wear a mask indoors and outdoors. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travelers can visit France for essential reasons only and must quarantine for ten days.
  • United Kingdom: Fully vaccinated travelers must take an eligible test by the end of day two after arrival. Unvaccinated travelers must pre-book a pre-departure test as well as take a PCR test on or before day 2 and the second test on or after day 8, in addition to self-isolating for 10 full days.

Latin America

Latin America continues to have relatively lenient entry requirements. This region can be a popular destination to escape the cold weather in most parts of the United States.

Mexico continues to be the most lenient and doesn’t require proof of vaccination or a negative pre-arrival test. The Mexico land border is open to US citizens again too.

As it’s summer in South America at the moment, you may consider going to Argentina. Fully vaccinated Americans can fly to Argentina restriction-free.

The entry requirements are similar for the Caribbean islands and vary by destination.

Australia

Australia reopened its border for its citizens and other essential travelers on December 17, 2021. However, tourists still cannot fly to Australia and may not until later in 2022. A firm reopening date is awaiting announcement.

Summary

It’s still possible to travel to many places in the world. However, with a resurgence in case counts, the entry requirements can be stricter for some countries that desire to exercise caution. Traveling within the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean can be the best options as the entry requirements are lenient for Americans.

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