For the first time in months, Massachusetts changed which U.S. states and territories people can travel from without quarantining amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, Puerto Rico and North Dakota were added to the low-risk list of Massachusetts’ COVID travel order. Hawaii had been the only state considered low-enough risk for quarantine-free travel since the end of November.
The change for travelers from Puerto Rico and North Dakota goes into effect Saturday morning after midnight, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said.
To be included on Massachusetts’ list of low-risk states for travel, the location must have fewer than 10 average daily cases per 100,000 people and a positive COVID-19 test rate below 5%. Both figures must hold over a seven-day average.
The change comes amid an easing of the coronavirus surge both in Massachusetts and nationwide.
Travelers from places that aren’t on the low-risk list must fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form and quarantine for 14 days, according to the state’s guidelines. That includes anyone who’s coming from one of the low-risk states but stayed “for more than a transitory period of time in the last 14 days” in a higher-risk state.
There are some exemptions, including for people who are going to higher-risk states just to commute or go to school. See the full order, which includes the exemptions, here.
Vermont was the last place in the U.S. besides Hawaii from where people could come to Massachusetts without quarantining, but that changed the last weekend of November.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was asked last week about whether the state was ready to begin opening travel as case numbers subsided.
“There is certainly a trend nationally where cases are coming down in most places,” he said. “The slope of the line varies from state to state and the length of the line varies from state to state. Hospitalizations have also seen a peak and are coming down. But the same thing is true there — some (states) have been coming down for weeks and some are just starting to come down.”