Culture Trip reports on the latest developments regarding domestic travel for Americans, as well as which states are open to visitors, and the prospect of international vacations this summer.
US residents keen on getting some much-needed R&R after months of lockdown will have to contend with fluctuating travel rules and reopening regulations. These differ from state to state, but the latest developments for the most popular destinations are as follows.
California’s continual efforts to reopen have been put on pause as soaring Covid-19 cases have forced the majority of indoor activities to close again.
Shopping malls, gyms, nail salons, indoor dining, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, museums, bars, places of worship, and other entertainment centers are banned from conducting business indoors.
“We’re moving back into a modification mode of our original ‘stay-at-home’ order,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.
Forbes reported on 13 July that the announcement did not directly address hotels or other segments of the tourism industry, although it is understood that hotels have to limit their dining to outdoors and close their bars.
Meanwhile, most county parks, trails and campgrounds have reopened across the state.
There are no restrictions on travel into California from other states, and all the state’s major airports, including Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport, remain open.
After closures over the Fourth of July weekend, Los Angeles County beaches, piers and bike paths are again open to walkers, cyclists and sunbathers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Anyone traveling to Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut is currently required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Afar.com reports that upon arriving in Florida, each traveler is obligated to complete a form that includes the traveler’s contact information and trip details. Violation of the quarantine order is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $500.
Beaches in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have reopened after closing for the Independence Day weekend.
Walt Disney World Resort has begun to reopen in Florida despite a Covid-19 surge across the US state, BBC News reports. The site’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened its doors on Saturday, July 11. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened for business from Wednesday, July 15.
Visitors will be required to wear masks and follow other safety precautions across the complex in Orlando.
On Sunday, July 12, Florida reported the most new coronavirus cases that any US state has had in a single day: 15,300.
The Sunshine State has had 269,811 cases since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 4,242 deaths. Last week, the state’s overall pandemic positive test rate rose from 9.1% to 10.5%, the Miami Herald reports.
New York – along with New Jersey and Connecticut – has decreed that travelers arriving from states where there is a high rate of Covid-19 must self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. ABC reports on the list of states from which travelers to the tri-state area are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Hotels were not required to close as they are considered essential businesses, but most in New York City have either been shut or open only to house coronavirus patients, hospital workers and the homeless. Vijay Dandapani, the president and CEO of the Hotel Association of New York, told the New York Post: “Out of nearly 700 hotels, nearly half of them are closed.” He said some could start reopening in July, but “it hinges on how international and domestic travel pick up, and how the tech companies react to this.” He does not expect luxury hotels to reopen until August.
Swimming resumed at New York’s 14 miles of public beaches on July 1, when lifeguards returned to duty, Afar.com reports.
Broadway venues – which have been closed since March – will not be allowed to reopen until at least early January 2021, despite an earlier announcement that they would reopen in September 2020.
Playbill.com reports on the latest list of Broadway shutterings, postponements, cancellations and scheduling updates.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled all large events requiring a city events permit through September 30, including the West Indian Day Parade and Feast of San Gennaro, ABC reports.
The Empire State Building’s observatory reopened on July 20, but with limited capacity. Visitors are required to undergo a temperature screening and must wear face masks throughout their visit. The observatory will be open initially from 8am to 11pm and allow 500 visitors at a time, about 20% of its usual capacity, USA Today reports.
Under Phase 4 of NYC’s reopening, some cultural venues, such as zoos and botanical gardens, can open for outdoor activities at 33 percent of the venue’s capacity. However, indoor cultural attractions such as museums, malls and indoor dining have yet to reopen in the Big Apple. The New York Times reports that there is no clear timetable on when and how those venues intend to resume business.
Casinos across the state have now largely reopened. However, travelers and residents of Las Vegas are now required to wear masks indoors in public places, meaning visitors to the city’s dozens of hotel-casinos must wear face coverings, Los Angeles Times reports.
Some Las Vegas casinos could now voluntarily close their doors again temporarily because of returning coronavirus worries, Casino.org reports.
At the end of June, the Lone Star State halted some of its reopening plans after a fresh spike in coronavirus cases. Texas has closed all bars that make more than 51 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcohol, and restaurants are once again limited to 50 percent capacity, Travel+Leisure reports.
Hotels have also resumed trade, while all public beaches have also reopened.
Most of South Carolina has reopened under guidelines encouraging social distancing and new sanitary requirements.
Restrictions on attractions and sports were relaxed in late May, so waterparks, amusement parks and zoos are all open, ThePointsGuy.com reports.
At the end of June, Arizona was forced to once again close bars, gyms, movie theaters and waterparks, having initially opened back up in May. The move came amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the Grand Canyon State, Travel+Leisure reports.
While there are currently no official Covid-19-related travel restrictions, Arizona officials recommend that visitors and residents avoid traveling through Navajo Nation, which is experiencing a significant outbreak, TravelPulse reports.
Most hotels and resorts in the state have reopened with new social-distancing and cleaning measures, and home sharing is once again permitted.
Since the start of the outbreak, Georgia has been making headlines for its lack of regulations. Almost all attractions and businesses in Georgia have been permitted to reopen, with some sanitary requirements in place, including hotels, gyms, restaurants, golf courses and tourist attractions.
Hawaii has some of the strictest Covid-19 regulations in the US, requiring people who travel to or between any of the islands to self-quarantine for 14 days. It means that, for now, the tourism season is on hold in the Aloha State.
Hawaii has again pushed back its target date for welcoming outside visitors by one month, from August 1 to September 1, further delaying a restart to the islands’ tourism industry.
“On July 13, Governor David Ige announced that he is delaying the launch of the state’s pre-travel testing program until September 1, 2020,” a press release from the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) stated.
Under the recommendations to resume tourism, out-of-state visitors would bypass the state’s quarantine requirements by presenting a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival, a proposal by the Hawaiian local government outlined.
“Travelers will be required to provide printed or emailed pre-test certification as evidence of a negative test result,” the release said. “Travelers will be responsible for the cost of the pre-travel test.”
ThePointsGuy.com reports that a number of hotels, restaurants and cafés reopened in early June, but local reports note that many customers have been charged “service fees.” Golf courses have also resumed business, while beaches are only open for exercise, fishing and food-gathering.
The Department of State still advises US citizens (including those who live outside the US) to avoid all international travel due to Covid-19; however, this is not mandatory.
The advisory also stipulates that: “If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside the United States for an indefinite time frame.”
US citizens who do choose to travel abroad may face a 14-day quarantine upon their return – although this will depend upon which state they reside in.
Those intending to visit Paris, Rome or Barcelona this summer will have to put their travel plans on hold, as US tourists are currently banned from vacationing anywhere in the European Union.
The United States has been omitted from a “safe list” of 14 destinations whose citizens are now permitted to visit the European Union for non-essential leisure or business travel. The United States was left off the list as it was deemed not to have sufficiently brought the coronavirus outbreak under control.
The list – not legally binding but a recommendation to EU members – will be revised every two weeks based on updated infection rates, which leaves open the possibility for nations to be added to or removed from it.
Here is a select list of countries currently open to US tourists, as reported by travel website TravelOffPath.com:
The Mexican state of Quintana Roo – home to popular vacation spots such as Cancun, Tulum and Riviera Maya – reopened to tourists in June, with hotels getting the all-clear to accept reservations and regularly scheduled flights resuming at Cancun International Airport, Afar.com reports.
Jamaica reopened to American tourists on 15 June. The Caribbean island requires all US visitors to fill out an online travel authorization card before they fly, while authorities will be testing arrivals at the airport.
French Polynesia, which includes Bora Bora, Mo’orea and Tahiti, is reopening to American tourists on 15 July. However, US travelers must bring evidence of a negative Covid-19 test before boarding their flight and will be tested again upon arrival. Some 3,000 visitors are expected in French Polynesia by the end of July as the territory opens up for international travel, RNZ.co.nz reports.
The Bahamas are open to US vacationers, but a negative-PCR test dating from no more than 10 days prior to arrival is required, and travelers are asked to fill out an online health declaration before they fly.
Antigua and Barbuda are open to Americans, although all US tourists need to take a Covid-19 test on arrival at a cost of $100.
Croatia is one of the few countries in Europe that permits US citizens to enter for a vacation, TravelOffPath.com reports. Tourists must arrive with a confirmation of accommodation booking.
The island nation is reopening to international tourists, including US travelers, from Wednesday July 15 with no restrictions, Forbes reports. Visitors will only be welcomed on resort islands and live-aboard boats for the first couple of weeks. Other inhabited islands will be allowed to reopen their guesthouses and hotels on August 1. All visitors upon arrival will also undergo thermal screening to monitor possible fevers.
Rwanda – a popular tourist destination in Africa to go on gorilla trekking experiences – will resume international flights from August 1. At that time, all overseas visitors must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test, taken within 72 hours of arriving in the country.